Andy Murray and Serena Williams will link up to play mixed doubles at Wimbledon, the Scot’s team confirmed on Tuesday evening.
The partnership, which seemed little more than a media dream when it was first mooted on Saturday, had grown increasingly more likely over the past couple of days and, after Williams safely came through her first-round singles test, it became reality.
The pair will sign in ahead of the deadline at 11am on Wednesday, thrusting what is traditionally the least heralded of the five main draws firmly into the spotlight.
Positives noises from Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, were the first real hint that it could happen, and Murray added further intrigue on Monday when he said he was 90 per cent sure who he would play with and that it could “possibly” be the American.
Williams continued to tease the possibility after beating Guilia Gatto-Monticone in the first round of the singles, suggesting she could do with the extra time on court.
The 37-year-old, who has been battling knee problems for much of the last few months, was in a playful mood in her press conference.
“I’m just going to see how I feel today, then go from there,” she said, refusing to confirm her intentions.
“I’m still kind of in the singles mode, trying to figure that part out. We’ll see. I could use extra matches, though, so it could be something.”
Asked for a percentage of how likely it was that she would team up with Murray, she replied: “I don’t know. If you guys really want it, then maybe I’ll do it.
“All right, done, just for you guys. Don’t forget. If you guys want it.”
Williams won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon 21 years ago with Max Mirnyi but has played only once at a grand slam in 20 years while Murray’s mixed-doubles experience has come at the Hopman Cup and in the Olympics, where he won a silver medal in 2012 with Laura Robson.
He has won favour from Williams in the past for speaking out on feminism and she was glowing in her praise for him on Tuesday.
“We’re a lot alike on the court,” she added. “I’ve always liked that about him. Talking about work ethic, his work ethic is just honestly off the charts. That’s something I’ve always respected about him. His fitness, everything.
“To do what he’s done in an era where there are so many other great male tennis players, so much competition, to rise above it, not many people have done it. He’s actually one of the few.
“There are so many things to be admired. Above all, he really stands out, he really speaks up about women’s issues, no matter what.
“You can tell he has a really strong woman in his life. I think above all that is just fantastic.”
Murray will open his men’s doubles campaign on Thursday alongside Pierre-Hugues Herbert, with the pair taking on Frenchman Ugo Humbert and Romania’s Marius Copil.
Herbert declared himself fit on Monday after doubts over a thigh problem, and there was some concern for Murray’s fitness on Tuesday, with the 32-year-old stopping practice 20 minutes earlier than scheduled and limping off court.
Murray is three weeks into his comeback following a second operation on his right hip in January.