Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tennis: Williams keen to face Murray in 'battle of the sexes'

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Simon Hart

Serena Williams said that she would be happy to take part in a battle-of-the-sexes showdown with Andy Murray after the Scot issued a playful challenge to the American by proposing a one-off match in Las Vegas.

Responding to a suggestion made by a fan on Twitter, Murray said that he would seriously consider an exhibition match against the women's world No 1.

"I'd be up for it. Why not?" Murray said. "I've never hit with her, but she's obviously an incredible player and I think people would be interested to see the men play against the women to see how the styles match up. It's happened in the past with Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova. How about Las Vegas as a venue?"

Connors defeated Navratilova in Las Vegas in 1992 in a revival of a two-match challenge 19 years earlier when former men's world No 1 Bobby Riggs, then aged 55, took on Margaret Court and Billie Jean King. He beat Court, but famously lost in straight sets to King in Houston in a match that grabbed the world's attention.

Williams has her own experience of playing against a male opponent – losing 6-1 to German journeyman Karsten Braasch in a one-set challenge when she was 16 at the Australian Open in 1988.

Now 31 and arguably in the best form of her life, Williams believes she would be an entirely different proposition.

"I was really young. I'm a lot more experienced now," she said. Asked whether she was ready to take up Murray's offer, Williams said: "That would be fun. I doubt I'd win a point, but that would be fun."

Judging by Williams's progress this week, it could well take the men's world No 2 to end her winning streak, which she extended to 33 successive matches with a 6-3 6-2 second-round victory against French teenager Caroline Garcia.

"I wouldn't want to play me at 21 or 31," said the 31-year-old top seed, who is looking to draw level with Roger Federer's haul of 17 grand slam titles.

Her next opponent will be Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 42 the oldest player in this year's Wimbledon draw.

Williams insisted that she would not be underestimating the veteran Japanese player after watching her sister Venus struggle to beat her in a three-hour epic two years ago that was dubbed the 'Zimmer Frame Thriller' because both players boasted a combined age of 71. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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