Venus Williams was "inspired" by sister Serena as she made a triumphant return to action in the Wimbledon mixed doubles alongside Jamie Murray.

The 42-year-old partnered Murray on Friday and rolled back the years with a 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 victory against Michael Venus and Alicja Rosolska in the first round.

That match marked Williams' first competitive action since last August's Chicago Open, with many questioning whether she would ever return to the court.

After showing some flashes of brilliance on Court One, Williams later revealed sibling Serena played a part in her decision to participate in this year's event at SW19.

Serena had herself returned from a year on the sidelines earlier in the week in the women's singles, only to go down to Harmony Tan in a three-set thriller.

"It was definitely super last minute. I was just inspired by Serena," Venus said. "It was amazing. I just was so happy to have so much help today.

"I've been trying to play with [Jamie] forever. He plays hard to get!"

All-time great Williams, who made her Wimbledon debut 25 years ago, is a five-time All England Club singles champion and has won the women's doubles on six occasions.

Williams and Murray will now face British wild cards Alicia Barnett and Jonny O'Mara in the second round, and the American says the fire is back in her belly.

"I had no plan to play but I saw the grass and I got excited," she said. "That's why I was asking [Jamie] last minute. He just had a baby, too, so I know there's a lot going on.

"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. 

"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."

Venus Williams rolled back the years as she teamed up with Jamie Murray to add another Wimbledon victory to her collection.

The five-time All England Club singles champion and six-time women's doubles winner turned 42 years old a fortnight ago, and this year marks 25 years since her Wimbledon singles debut.

Williams had been inactive on tour since last August's Chicago Open, with many doubting she would play again, but the American great showed flashes of brilliance alongside British doubles expert Murray in a 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 victory over Michael Venus of New Zealand and Poland's Alicja Rosolska.

Some 24 years on from the season when she and Justin Gimelstob landed the Australian Open and French Open mixed doubles titles, Williams thrilled the Court One crowd with her energetic play at times, showing only a hint of rust.

The match was not initially allocated a specific court, as organisers hoped play on a show court would end early to allow for it to be added to the programme.

That panned out ideally, meaning a busy stadium crowd got to see Williams and five-time grand slam mixed doubles champion Murray pair up for a late-evening tussle, three years after their siblings Serena Williams and Andy Murray also joined forces at Wimbledon.

Venus Williams will make her Wimbledon return after the five-time singles champion was granted a wildcard entry for the mixed doubles with Jamie Murray.

The 42-year-old has not played on the WTA Tour since a first-round defeat at the Chicago Open last year due to a leg injury.

However, despite not entering either the women's singles or women's doubles in SW19, Williams was pictured arriving at the championships with a sports bag on Sunday.

And it was confirmed on Wednesday she would be teaming up with Murray, with the pair facing a first-round clash against Alicja Rosolska and Michael Venus on Friday.

Both Williams and Murray have enjoyed mixed doubles success previously at Wimbledon.

Murray is a two-time winner having partnered Jelena Jankovic in 2007 and Martina Hingis in 2017 – beating Michael Venus in the latter final – while Williams reached the final in 2006 alongside Bob Bryan. She has won the women's doubles with sister Serena Williams six times.

This is not the first All England Club partnership between the two hugely successful tennis families either, with Serena and Andy Murray reaching the third round at Wimbledon in 2019.

Last year, Venus bowed out at the second round in the singles following defeat to Ons Jabeur but vowed she would return to SW19 – a promise she has now fulfilled. 

She follows the return of her sister Serena, who suffered a surprise singles defeat in the opening round against Harmony Tan on day two of the tournament.

Jamie Murray has questioned why Novak Djokovic was granted special dispensation to compete at the Australian Open.

Seven-times grand slam doubles champion Murray was asked about the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption for the year's first grand slam tournament at Melbourne Park.

Players have been obliged to either prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or apply for an exemption, which tournament organisers said involved a "rigorous" process to prove eligibility.

World number one Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open men's singles champion, yet it was unclear until Tuesday whether he would be allowed to play the event this year.

There has been early backlash to the decision to clear him, with Melbourne having been hit by multiple lockdowns during the pandemic and many believing only vaccinated players should be playing.

Murray, brother of Djokovic's long-time friend and rival Andy Murray, spoke after the Serbian was permitted to travel into Australia and said he doubted he would get the same treatment.

Asked about the situation in an ATP Cup news conference, Jamie Murray said: "I don't know what to say about that really. I think if it was me that wasn't vaccinated, I wouldn't be getting an exemption.

"But well done to him for getting cleared to come to Australia and compete."

 

Djokovic may wish to elaborate further on the factors behind him being given the green light to travel into the state of Victoria, and will doubtless face media questions about the situation once he arrives.

However, the 20-time grand slam winner has been unwilling to disclose his vaccination status until now, which suggests there is little prospect of him offering further medical insight at this stage.

Asked if he felt it was not a fair decision to exempt Djokovic, Jamie Murray added: "Whatever you want to say, that's the situation."

Murray, 35, was interrupted at that point by Great Britain captain Liam Broady, who said: "At the end of the day, you have to trust he has a valid reason for the medical exemption, that's all you can say about it really, isn't it."

However, Broady had no doubt Djokovic would play the Australian Open, which begins on January 17, and claimed it was a foregone conclusion.

In an Instagram story, Broady posted a screenshot of Djokovic's announcement, adding the remark: "The second AO announced there would be exemptions 8 weeks ago we all knew."

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