By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Serena Williams fuelled talk of a dream-team partnership with home favourite Andy Murray after declaring her availability for the Wimbledon mixed doubles on Saturday.
Murray returned from a five-month injury lay-off last week to win the men’s doubles title at Queen’s Club with Feliciano Lopez and is entered with Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Wimbledon.
The 32-year-old, twice a men’s singles winner at Wimbledon, also plans to play mixed as he continues his recovery from hip-resurfacing surgery in February. He is not playing singles.
Murray was turned down by new women’s world number one Ash Barty but the 37-year-old Williams, who will be aiming for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title here, left the door open for a possible approach.
“I’m available. I’m feeling better now, so I’m definitely available,” Williams, whose playing time this year has been restricted to five tournaments because of knee issues, told reporters when asked whether would like to play with Murray.
Pushed on the subject, Williams added a word of caution though, suggesting it would depend on her fitness: “I mean, 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.”
Murray said he had spoken to several players but understood that singles was their priority.
Asked about Serena he said: “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. But she’s arguably the best player ever. It would be a pretty solid partner,” smiled Murray.
Williams, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles with Max Mirnyi in 1998, has not played a competitive match since losing in the French Open third round to Sofia Kenin.
Seeded 11th, she begins her quest for an eighth Wimbledon singles crown against Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone.
Despite not playing any grasscourt warm-up tournaments she is optimistic about her fitness.
“I was dealing with some bad injuries all year. I just haven’t had enough match play, quite frankly,” she said.
“Finally feel like I found some good results in Paris. I stayed there. I saw some good doctors. Yeah, I’m feeling better.
“I have been really just mentally training, physically training for that time here. I’m just going to do the best that I can now that I’m here. I know how to play tennis.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Lovell)