Venus Williams admitted her shock Wimbledon comeback was inspired by sister Serena and after a successful return on grass has now set her sights on another grand-slam title.
The 42-year-old partnered with Jamie Murray on Friday night to down Alicja Rosolska and Michael Venus 6-3 6-7 (3) 6-3 in the first round of the mixed doubles at the All England Club.
Williams had not played competitively since last August but after she saw her younger sibling make a shock return to action after 12 months out in Eastbourne last week, it proved the catalyst for the veteran to request a wild card to appear at the Championships for a 24th year.
An official announcement on Wednesday confirmed the American, who has won a total of 23 majors across singles and doubles, would join forces with the eldest Murray in a strange twist of fate with Andy Murray and Serena Williams teaming up in SW19 back in 2019.
“I’ve been trying to play with him forever. He plays hard to get,” Williams said with a laugh.
“It’s one of the only ones I haven’t won, so I usually put a little more priority here. It was definitely super last minute. Just inspired by Serena. Like I said, it was amazing. I just was so happy to have so much help today.”
The veteran had exited last year’s singles competition in the second round and played just one match at Chicago in the ensuring period, but was back on Court One where a party atmosphere developed to see the American great.
Williams appeared frustrated at her level during the opening exchanges but a 116mph ace helped settle any nerves and also ensured she held her first service game following an eight-minute battle.
A brace of exceptional volleys contributed towards another key hold not long after the new team had broken their opponents on their way to a first set that was wrapped up in 39 minutes.
Rosolska and New Zealander Venus responded strongly in the second, which was briefly delayed by a Mexican Wave, before they edged a tie-breaker to force a decider.
Another pause occurred while the roof was closed but Williams was determined to mark her latest appearance at the Championships with a win.
Quick hands by the American at the net saw her fire down a volleyed winner to break early in the third and a pep talk helped settle Murray following back-to-back double faults.
The Scot had no such issues next time and a 119mph ace helped him serve out the match and send them into the last-16 where they will face British duo Alicia Barnett and Jonny O’Mara.
Williams added: “I had no plan to play but I saw the grass and I got excited.
“I had no plans. That’s why I was asking him last minute. He just had a baby, too, so I know there’s a lot going on.
“Definitely I couldn’t have guessed that I would be here right now, taking it at the last minute. I haven’t played in a year so you don’t know what you’re going to get.
“Practice is so much different from a match. It’s not easy physically or mentally or anything. Just at the last it was like, oh my God, wow.
“I just not only played a match but won a match. I’m never like that kind of player. I always expect to win. But when I sat there, we wanted to win, but when I sat there at the end, it was real. Yeah I felt something in my heart.”
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