Roger Federer tops Serena Williams in clash of titans

Tennis greats Serena Williams and Roger Federer taking a wefie after their Hopman Cup mixed doubles match yesterday.
Tennis greats Serena Williams and Roger Federer taking a wefie after their Hopman Cup mixed doubles match yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PERTH • Roger Federer and Serena Williams have 43 Grand Slam singles titles between them but the wefie they took yesterday was a different kind of victory for them.

Speaking together during an on-court interview after Switzerland beat the United States 2-1 in their Hopman Cup Group B match, both legends had nothing but respect and praise for each other.

"It was great fun. What a pleasure. What an honour. Thank you Serena for making it possible," Federer said after he and Belinda Bencic defeated Williams and Frances Tiafoe 4-2, 4-3 (5-3) in the mixed doubles. "She's a great champion, you see how focused she is and I love that about her."

It was the first time Federer and Williams have played against each other in careers which spanned more than 20 years. They also shared an embrace after the match.

"I was nervous about the serve. It was nerve-racking, too. I thought I had to win this point but it is Serena Williams. I made the serve and I missed the area and I want to thank you for missing the ball," the Swiss great added.

Williams then returned the honour, saying: "He's the greatest of all time, to be honest. It was a great experience. I'm sorry it had to finish, I was just warming up. It was such fun... I wanted to take pictures and bring my baby out.

"This guy is great, both off the court and on the court. I think his serve is super-underestimated. It's a killer serve, you can't read it. I watched him all the time and I never knew how amazing it was."

Earlier yesterday, Federer beat Tiafoe 6-4, 6-1 to put the defending champions 1-0 up, before Williams levelled for the US by defeating Bencic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Meanwhile, former world No. 1 Andy Murray made a successful return to competitive tennis with a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over James Duckworth at the Brisbane International.

The 31-year-old ended his season early last year after suffering pain in his hip following surgery earlier that ruled him out of three of the four Grand Slam events.

"It's not easy to sum up (but) it's been really hard the last 18 months, been a lot of ups and downs trying to get back on court," he said after a 10th successive win in Brisbane, having won the event at both his previous appearances in 2012 and 2013.

"Being back now I am trying to enjoy it as much as I can, for as long as I can because I am not sure how much longer I have got."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HOPMAN CUP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Roger tops Serena in clash of titans'. Print Edition | Subscribe