Andy Murray and Serena Williams’ Wimbledon match-up continued to impress after they eased into the third round of the mixed doubles.
‘Murena’ — the nickname chosen by Williams — dominated Fabrice Martin and Raquel Atawo to win 7-5, 6-3 in front of a thrilled Centre Court crowd.
They have proved that their super coupling is much more than just a gimmick and are now firm contenders for the title, even if they do play top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar in the next round.
The win marked the end of a productive day for Williams, who admitted she had to fight all the way to overcome Alison Riske and move a step closer to an eighth Wimbledon singles title.
A thrilling 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory in the all-American showdown on Centre Court ensured the 37-year-old reached her 12th semi-final in 19 appearances at the Championships.
Riske, unseeded and ranked 55, had knocked out world number one Ashleigh Barty 24 hours earlier, and she pushed Williams all the way.
But for Riske there was no reward, despite five breaks of serve — converting every single break point she created — against the 23-time grand-slam winner.
“I just needed to just fight,” admitted Williams.
Alison, I mean, she played great throughout the whole tournament. She’s beaten so many amazing players, players that have had great years.
“She was not giving it to me. I needed to step up and take it. That’s what I had to do.”
Williams was the centre of attention even off the court yesterday as she revealed in an interview how she apologised to Naomi Osaka and consulted a therapist after her 2018 US Open final meltdown.
Williams’ outburst towards umpire Carlos Ramos, branding him a “liar” and a “thief” after he docked her a game, overshadowed Osaka’s maiden grand slam victory.
The American said Osaka had accepted her apology, but still insists she was a victim of sexism at Flushing Meadows.
Writing in Harper’s Bazaar, with an accompanying eye-catching photoshoot, the 37-year-old said: “In the end, my opponent simply played better than me that day and ended up winning her first grand slam title.
“I could not have been happier for her.
“As for me, I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love — one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning.
Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labelled ‘emotional, crazy, and irrational’, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?
“So often when men fight back against the referees, they’re met with a smile or even a laugh from the umpire, as if they’re sharing an inside joke.
“I’m not asking to avoid being penalised. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else.
“I started seeing a therapist. I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racquet.
“Finally I realised that there was only one way for me to move forward. It was time for me to apologise to the person who deserved it the most.
“When Naomi’s response came through, tears rolled down my face. ‘People can misunderstand anger for strength because they can’t differentiate between the two,’ she said graciously.
“‘No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing’.”
Elsewhere, Henri Kontinen and John Peers earned a slice of history in the men’s doubles as they won the first-ever final-set tie-breaker.
The new rule was brought in this year to avoid deciding-set marathons at the All England Club, prompted by the 2018 men’s semi-final which Kevin Anderson won 26-24 in the last set against John Isner.
It has taken until the eighth day for a match to go to 12-12 in the final set, but finally the wait ended in the men’s doubles second round.
Kontinen and Peers were the victors and wrote their names into the history books, as deadlocked at 12-12, they produced a fine tie-break performance to get the better of British hope Joe Salisbury and his partner Rajeev Ram, winning 7-6 (2), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 13-12 (2).