Decisions, decisions. Should Andy Murray play mixed doubles? If so, who with?
After much umming and ahhing, Murray has decided that, yes, he will play mixed doubles but, as yet, he has no partner. That is not an issue yet – the sign in date is on Wednesday – but the former world No.1 is quite picky about who he wants to play with. Serena Williams would, he thinks, be a “solid” partner. And with 14 grand slam doubles titles and the three Olympic doubles gold medals in her tally of 23 doubles titles in all, he is probably right.
“I’ve spoken to a number of players about playing,” Murray said. “Obviously the one thing with the players that are in the singles is that that’s their priority. I understand that. I appreciate that.
“If I’m going to play mixed, which is the plan, you obviously want to be playing with someone who’s going to be there for the whole event, and they’re in it to try to win matches and win the event.
“I appreciate with singles players that’s not always going to be the case. Obviously she’s arguably the best player ever. She would be a pretty solid partner.”
The fact that Murray is in it to win it should come as no surprise. He is still happy just to be back on a tennis court but when he is on that court, he is as competitive as ever. Winning the Queen’s Club trophy with Feliciano Lopez a week ago has not changed his perspective but playing to such a high level in his first tournament back has certainly not dimmed his competitive fire.
“For me it hasn’t changed really,” Murray said. “I think that’s probably one of the things that I will try to make sure it doesn’t change over the next few years: I’m just happy to be playing tennis again really.
“I would like to do well when I get on the court. I play to win. I’m really competitive. But I didn’t know four or five weeks ago if I’d even be playing over the grass. I shouldn’t be expecting too much. But once I step on the court, I’ll be out there trying to win every match I play.”
Winning would require a good partner, that is for sure. Of all the names being mentioned at the moment, Victoria Azarenka would be a good call – she reached the final with Jamie in SW19 last summer. It would not cause any family rift, either, as Jamie will be playing with Bethanie Mattek Sands, the woman with whom he won the US Open mixed doubles title last September.
As for Williams, she is not quite so keen on the whole mixed doubles question. As she tries to find a way to win a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title, she is desperately hoping her ailing knee will hold out.
This is her 19th Wimbledon campaign in 23 years and after all that time on the road, there is next to no cartilage left in her left knee and she has been struggling to compete, much less win, for most of the past three months. Taking on an extra workload in the mixed doubles may well be a step too far, even it were to be with Murray.
“I’m available. I’m feeling better now, so I’m definitely available,” she said, none too seriously. “We just have to wait and see. I like to be tongue-in-cheek. Let’s see how my knee’s going. I’m finally doing good. I don’t want to, like, go back.”
But she did have a few words of advice for Murray. If he and Pierre-Hugues Herbert win their first two rounds in the men’s doubles, they may find themselves facing Jamie and Neal Skupski. And Serena, who has played her sister Venus 30 times over the course of her career, gave a simple direction: “Don’t look at ‘em. Literally look at the ground, don’t look at them at all. Disconnect.”
Murray is a little more upbeat about the prospect of meeting his brother. It would be their first competitive match in four years (the last was a doubles encounter in Canada and Jamie and John Peers won) – but he has to get there first.
“Even if were separated on opposite ends of the draw, people would be talking about us playing in the final,” Murray said with a weary look. “If we play each other, it would be difficult in some respects. You’re competing against your brother at the biggest tennis event in the world.
“At the same time I’d rather be on the same side of the net with him. But it’s cool if we did get the opportunity, that we’d be doing it on the biggest stage in our sport, as well, which would be nice.”
The decisions have all been made. Now Murray just needs to get down to the business of winning again.