Heather Watson praised Jule Niemeier's "flawless" performance after seeing her best Wimbledon run ended by the German in a straight-sets last-16 reverse.

Watson was beaten 6-2 6-4 by Niemeier on the 100th anniversary of Centre Court's opening, as the home favourite fell short of a first career grand slam quarter-final appearance.

Niemeier's win set up a last-eight clash with compatriot Tatjana Maria, as two German female players reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the same year for just the fifth time since 1987.

In her post-match news conference, Watson lauded her opponent's display and said she will eventually look back on her run to the fourth round with pride. 

"Immediately after walking off the court, I was obviously extremely disappointed. I've taken every match here as a big opportunity and managed to take advantage of it until today," she said.

"But credit to my opponent. I felt like she played really well, especially in that first set. Very flawless tennis. 

"She served big, which was a big difference today, I felt like I was always reacting to her ball. I was not on the front foot like I was in my other matches.

"It's so soon after the match, I'm still deflated and disappointed, I saw today as a big opportunity and thought I would come through it.

"I've always felt good enough, I've won four WTA titles – that's not easy. I know when I light it up I can beat anyone on my day, and tennis is so up and down. 

"I'll look back and be proud of myself for this week, but right now I'm disappointed."

Niemeier became the fourth-youngest German woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals in the Open Era, with only Bettina Bunge, Steffi Graf and Sabine Lisicki doing so at a younger age.

The 22-year-old recognised the significance of winning on the day of Centre Court's centenary celebrations, after the likes of Roger Federer and Billie Jean King spoke during a parade of former champions, and even apologised to fans for eliminating a home hopeful.

"I didn't want to watch the show before the match because I was pretty nervous and I saw all the players, so I didn't want to see it. But of course, it's a special place, it's one of the biggest courts on Tour," she said.

"The court is so beautiful, and I feel honoured I had the chance to play on Centre Court.

"I just want to say sorry that I had to kick out a British player today!"

Nick Kyrgios has dragged tennis into the gutter with his Wimbledon antics, according to Pat Cash.

According to Kyrgios' compatriot Cash, the Australian has taken the sport "to the lowest level" with his on-court behaviour in the first week of the tournament.

The 27-year-old beat fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) in an enthralling round-three tie on Saturday.

Tsitsipas accused his opponent of "constant bullying" after the ill-tempered clash, which was followed by a riposte as Kyrgios said the beaten Greek was "soft" and denied being a bully.

Kyrgios frustrated Tsitsipas by calling for him to be defaulted after the world number five narrowly missed a spectator when firing a ball into the crowd at the end of the second set.

The umpire was then labelled a "disgrace" during an extraordinary Kyrgios outburst, and his behaviour seemed to get under the skin of Tsitsipas, who was deducted a point for sending another ball towards the spectators before appearing to hit a couple of shots directly at his opponent's body.

Kyrgios has been a repeated critic of umpires and line judges, often appearing to show contempt to authority figures, and Cash – Wimbledon champion in 1987 – has had enough, calling out his countryman's conduct.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Cash said: "It was absolute mayhem. He's brought tennis to the lowest level I can see, as far as gamesmanship, cheating, manipulation, abuse, aggressive behaviour to umpires, to linesmen.

"He was lucky to even get through the first set, he should have been defaulted in about the first set. Something's got to be done about it. It's an absolute circus.

"Is it entertaining? Yeah, possibly. But it's gone to its absolute limit now."

Asked how he considered Kyrgios to be cheating, Cash said: "The gamesmanship, the stuff that he was doing. The abuse that he was giving Tsitsipas.

"Tsitsipas would make a line call and he'd go up there and he'd start complaining, he was in his face. That's a part of gamesmanship. That's the sort of stuff that he does and I think there's a limit."

Cash's criticism comes ahead of Kyrgios facing American Brandon Nakashima on Monday. That match has been given the prize billing of first up on Centre Court, despite neither man being seeded.

The tennis authorities may not approve of some of the behaviour, but they know there is a huge public fascination with the highly talented Kyrgios, which is why that match has such a prestigious slot. He is 40th in the ATP rankings, and 20-year-old Nakashima is 56th on the list.

Kyrgios is just one win away from matching his best run at Wimbledon, having reached the quarter-finals in 2014 with a win over Rafael Nadal before being beaten by Milos Raonic.

Yet Cash indicated the loudmouthed showman should face sanctions for his actions.

"I have no problem with a bit of gamesmanship, but when it gets to that level I think it's out of control, and it was," Cash said.

"The umpire had lost control, the ball kids were running across the court as Kyrgios was serving. He didn't slow down for any of that stuff.

"Tsitsipas got sucked right in, so it was entertaining, and it was fascinating, but for me it's gone too far now."

Surprise Wimbledon quarter-finalist Tatjana Maria joined an illustrious list of greats after defeating Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday.

Maria, a mother of two, returned from maternity leave under a year ago and came back from a set down to triumph 5-7 7-5 7-5 against the 2017 French Open champion. 

That sent the 34-year-old into the first grand slam quarter-final of her career.

With that achievement, the German matched a feat only six women had previously managed, as she became the seventh woman in the Open Era to reach the last eight of a major after turning 34.

World number 103 Maria, who salvaged two match points in the second set, joins the great Billie Jean King, Virginia Wade, Chris Evert, nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Venus Williams on that distinguished list.

Ostapenko was in a foul mood after seeing the match slip from her grasp, and received a frosty reception as she made her way off court.

It could take nothing away from a special day for Maria, who said in her on-court interview: "Oh my God, it makes me so proud to be a mum.

"That's the best thing in the world, I love to be a mum, I love my two kids. To be able to do this together, we practiced this morning with my daughter.

"Everybody has been so nice, supporting us and believing in me and our family, it makes it really special."

Next up for Maria is compatriot Jule Niemeier, who defeated Britain's Heather Watson in straight sets.

Martina Navratilova said she was "gutted" to miss Wimbledon's Centre Court centenary celebration after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The nine-time champion was absent from a parade of champions, and in a series of posts on social media she explained why she had to sit it out.

Past winners were introduced to the main show court's middle Sunday crowd, with the one-time champions going first, all the way through to eight-time Wimbledon king Roger Federer.

Navratilova would have come out last of all, as the most successful singles player in Wimbledon history, but she was unable to take part. Including doubles, Navratilova won 20 slam titles at Wimbledon.

"Unfortunately I will miss it as I just tested positive this morning," she wrote on Twitter shortly before the ceremony. "Am so bummed!!!! I am gutted I can't be there."

Confirming she had the coronavirus, Navratilova wrote: "Yup, got it here for sure… oh well. So wanted to be on that court with so many champions of our sport."

Asked how she was feeling, the 65-year-old Czech-born American added: "Not too bad so far- wouldn't want to play tennis but ok… fingers crossed."

A host of greats of the game delighted the crowd, with stars of the women's tour including Navratilova's former great rivals Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, along with Margaret Court and Venus Williams, while Federer was joined by a field of fellow men's superstars that included Rod Laver, Novak Djokovic, Stefan Edberg, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Three-time former champion Boris Becker was another notable absentee, after the German was jailed in April for offences relating to his 2017 bankruptcy. Seven-time winner Serena Williams also missed the event, after her first-round defeat.

Navratilova has been working at Wimbledon during the championships, notably appearing as a member of the BBC broadcast team.

Roger Federer hopes he can grace Centre Court at Wimbledon one last time as he bids to return from the knee injury he suffered last year.

The 20-time grand slam champion has not played since undergoing knee surgery after a straight-sets defeat to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at SW19 last July, having also missed much of the 2020 season with a similar injury.

But Federer, an eight-time Wimbledon champion, has repeatedly ruled out retiring and said last month he intends to make an ATP tour comeback in 2023.

Speaking alongside a swathe of former Wimbledon champions at a ceremony marking 100 years since the opening of Centre Court, the 40-year-old said he hopes to extend his long association with the tournament when he returns.

"I've been lucky enough to play a lot of matches on this court, it feels awkward to be here today in a different type of role, but it's great to be here with all the other champions," he said.

"This court has given me my biggest wins, my biggest losses, one of my highlights of course was in 2001, walking out here with Pete Sampras [for a memorable fourth-round match], who inspired a lot of us to play, to try to be successful and represent the sport well, I hope I did that.

"I hope I can come back like you said, one more time."

Federer's injury woes have reduced him to featuring at just three of the last 10 grand slams, and he revealed his recovery had taken longer than he anticipated. 

"Of course, I've missed being here, I would have loved to be here," he added.

"I knew walking out here last year [after his exit] it was going to be a tough year ahead. 

"Maybe I didn't think it was going to take me this long to come back, but the knee has been rough on me.

"But I've been happy, it's been a good year, regardless of tennis."

Nick Kyrgios labelled Stefanos Tsitsipas "soft" and defended his on-court antics after the Greek called him a "bully" in the aftermath of their ill-tempered Wimbledon clash.

Kyrgios recovered from one set down to post an impressive 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) win over the fourth seed, setting up a last-16 tie with Brandon Nakashima with a scintillating performance on No. 1 Court.

But the contest was not without controversy, with Kyrgios frustrating Tsitsipas by calling for him to be defaulted after the Greek narrowly missed a spectator when firing a ball into the crowd at the end of the second set.

The Australian then labelled the umpire a "disgrace" during an extraordinary outburst, and his antics seemed to get under the skin of Tsitsipas, who was deducted a point for sending another ball towards the spectators before appearing to hit a couple of shots directly at Kyrgios.

While Kyrgios praised his opponent – with whom he played doubles at Wimbledon three years ago, as "a hell of a player" in his post-match interview, neither player was in the mood for niceties in their respective news conferences.

First up was Tsitsipas, who accused Kyrgios of "constant bullying".

"That's what he does," the world number five said of his rival. "He bullies the opponents. He was probably a bully at school himself.

"I don't like bullies. I don't like people that put other people down.

"He has some good traits in his character, as well. But he also has a very evil side to him, which, if it's exposed, it can really do a lot of harm and bad to the people around him."

Kyrgios, who has now claimed four wins in five career meetings with Tsitsipas, responded to that criticism shortly thereafter, alleging the Greek was not popular in the locker room and saying his inability to handle such matches would hold him back.

"He's that soft, to come in here and say I bullied him? That's just soft," Kyrgios said. 

"We're not cut from the same cloth. If he's affected by that today, then that’s what's holding him back, because someone can just do that and that's going to throw him off his game like that. I just think it's soft.

"I don't know what to say. I'm not sure how I bullied him.

"He was the one hitting balls at me, he was the one that hit a spectator, he was the one that smacked it out of the stadium.

"I didn't do anything. I was actually like… apart from me just going back and forth to the umpire for a bit, I did nothing towards Stefanos today that was disrespectful, I don't think. I was not drilling him with balls.

"I feel great, the circus was all him today. I think if he's making that match about me, he's got some serious issues, I'm good in the locker room, I've got many friends, I'm actually one of the most liked [players]. I'm set.

"He's not liked, let's just put that there. I'm good, I feel good."

Kyrgios is just one win away from matching his best run at Wimbledon, having reached the quarter-finals in 2014 with a win over Rafael Nadal before being beaten by Milos Raonic.

Nick Kyrgios acknowledged having his "own tactics" after overcoming Stefanos Tsitsipas in a dramatic, ill-tempered affair to reach Wimbledon's last 16.

Kyrgios produced an outstanding display to rally after losing the first set on No. 1 Court, eventually prevailing 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) in an incident-filled match.

The enigmatic star set the tone with an incredible outburst after a frustrated Tsitsipas struck a ball into the crowd at the end of the second set, narrowly missing a spectator.

The Australian immediately called for his opponent to be defaulted, recalling Novak Djokovic's contentious exit from the 2020 US Open after he had accidentally hit a line judge in frustration after dropping a game.

Kyrgios could be heard calling the umpire a "disgrace", and then, after Tsitsipas had been let off with a warning, the unseeded talent asked: "Are you dumb?"

He then hit out at the umpire, yelling: "What are you talking about? Novak hit someone, it is the same, it happened right there. 

"Bring out more supervisors, I'm not done. You can bring them all out, I don't care. I'm not playing until we get to the bottom of it. 

"What happened to Novak when he hit the ball into a girl? She was injured. You can't hit a ball into the crowd and hit someone and not get defaulted."

But the drama was far from done as Tsitsipas flew into a rage of his own early in the third, having been hit with a point deduction for wildly firing another ball towards the crowd – but hitting the scoreboard instead – after Kyrgios produced a mischievous underarm serve when holding to love.

The fourth seed's frustration was evident as he then appeared to hit a couple of shots right at Kyrgios to boos from spectators, who vociferously cheered every point for the Australian.

But after producing some outstanding tennis to end the aggravated Tsitsipas' hopes of winning a first grand slam title, Kyrgios said he had no problems with the Greek, whom he played doubles with at Wimbledon in 2019.

"Honestly, it was a hell of an atmosphere, an amazing match, I honestly felt like the favourite coming in; I played him a couple of weeks ago, but I knew it was going to be a tough match," he said.

"He's a hell of a player, I had my own tactics out there – he knows how to play me, he's beaten me once, and obviously I've had success, so it was a hell of a match.

"I'm just super happy to be through, he was getting frustrated at times and it's a frustrating sport, that's for sure. I know you all think you can play, but it's very frustrating, whatever happens on the court, I love him."

Kyrgios now holds a 4-1 head-to-head lead over Tsitsipas, having also got the better of the world number five on the grass at the Halle Open earlier this month.

The 27-year-old also previously courted controversy during his run to the fourth round when he spat in the direction of a "disrespectful" fan during his first-round win over Paul Jubb.

But Kyrgios claimed his antics serve to drive interest in the sport, adding: "It's amazing, everywhere I go I seem to have full stadiums.

"The media loves to write that I'm bad for the sport, but clearly not."

Rafael Nadal was quick to apologise for appearing to upset opponent Lorenzo Sonego when he called him in for a word late in a dominant Wimbledon win.

Nadal saw off Sonego in straight sets and was in complete control for much of the third-round match, only briefly losing his composure when the Centre Court roof was closed following a lengthy plea from the 27th seed.

When the contest resumed, Nadal – who had not faced a break point until that stage – was broken to love in a game in which he took issue with a noise Sonego made as he approached the ball.

Nadal appealed to the umpire for some form of discipline immediately after the point and then took the matter into his own hands following the game.

The Spaniard called over a bemused Sonego and seemed to admonish him, leaving the Italian clearly frustrated and engaging in a prolonged discussion with the umpire.

Nadal then broke back and quickly wrapped up a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory, before the pair met again at the net.

The 22-time major champion first attempted to explain his actions to Sonego, then to the umpire and finally to the Centre Court crowd.

After a highly respectful first answer in his on-court interview – acknowledging his "best match" of the championships so far against "a great player", "the most difficult player I've faced" in this run – Nadal discussed the confrontation.

It was suggested the encounter had been "spicy", but Nadal interrupted: "Sorry, not spicy at all. From the bottom of my heart, I didn't mean it in a negative way.

"I feel very sorry if I bothered him – I just wanted to tell him something. I did it in a nice way, and I feel now really bad if I bothered him. I'm sorry for that.

"That's it. I was talking to him, and now I'm going to talk to him, but this was not a problem, I don't think, at all."

Rafael Nadal enjoyed serene progress into round four at Wimbledon with a stylish 6-1 6-2 6-4 defeat of Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday.

For the first time at SW19 this week, there was little evidence of Nadal's recent fitness problems as he completely outclassed his Italian opponent.

And on this form, the calendar Grand Slam appears a genuine possibility for the Australian Open and French Open champion.

Indeed, it was hard not to feel sorry for Sonego – and he did appear to have the sympathy of the Centre Court crowd – as Nadal's strokes painted pretty patterns around him.

The Spaniard remarkably dropped only two points on his own serve in the first set – both to double-faults. It was a similar story in Sonego's service games, too, as he held at the first attempt but then lost the next nine in succession.

Such was Nadal's superiority a relieved Sonego lifted his arms to salute the crowd as he finally held serve in the fifth game of the second and was given a generous cheer.

That small victory scarcely slowed Nadal, who wrapped up the second on his own serve and then blasted Sonego away in the opening game of the third to break once again.

Sonego soon found a more effective way to hold up his opponent, however, appealing at length for the Centre Court roof to be closed and eventually succeeding after a brave hold and a handful of points on Nadal's serve informed officials he was capable of dragging the contest out under fading light.

So it briefly proved, as Nadal – perhaps irked by the delay – lost his composure and was broken to love after Sonego made a noise as he approached the ball; Nadal deemed the umpire an unnecessary middle man and called Sonego over for a word, clearly upsetting the Italian.

A fired-up Nadal immediately broke back, and after finally delivering a little drama, the match – and Sonego's campaign – was over.

Data Slam: Rafa ramping up

This was Sonego's first meeting with Nadal, and he might have picked a better time to face this fiercely focused great. The 22-time major champion has now won 10 third-round Wimbledon matches in a row, including the past four without dropping a set. Sonego had a hard enough time merely winning a game for much of the match.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 24/17
Sonego – 19/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 2/4
Sonego – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 6/8
Sonego – 1/1

Alize Cornet compared herself to a fine French wine as she left Iga Swiatek's Wimbledon dream in tatters.

Frenchwoman Cornet, who eight years ago produced a Wimbledon sensation when beating Serena Williams, delivered another show-stopping result when she won 6-4 6-2 against top seed and world number one Swiatek.

It happened on the tournament's middle Saturday and on Court One, just as the victory over Williams in 2014 had.

Swiatek had reeled off 37 successive wins, landing six titles in the process, including a second French Open crown. However, she has appeared far from comfortable on the grass in London, and it was clear she would be ripe for such an upset if her performance level from the first two rounds did not improve.

Cornet, who at the age of 32 is competing in a record-tying 62nd consecutive grand slam tournament, will face Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.

In an on-court interview, Cornet said of her win: "It reminds me of the time I beat Serena on the same court eight years ago. I think this court is a lucky charm for me.

"I want to say I'm a huge fan of Iga. She is just so talented, and she's such an amazing player and such a nice ambassador of women's tennis, so I'm very flattered that I beat her today.

"I think this kind of match is what I'm living for and practising for every day. It really drives me, and I knew I could do it. Somehow I had this belief, even through she had 37 wins in a row.

"It was like, if there is a moment you can beat her it's now, on grass. She feels a little less comfortable than on other surfaces, so I was just believing very hard, very focused, and I have the best team by my side and the best crowd also.

"So I guess I like the upsets. It's a really nice feeling right now.

"I'm like a good wine. In France, a good wine always ages well. It's unreal, I'm playing one of the best seasons of my career. I feel great on the court. I'm having so much fun. Eight years later after my first qualification into the second week I can see I'm still there, I'm still so motivated, and I still have the fire in me."

Swiatek slumped from a 2-0 lead in the second set, dropping six successive games as the match slipped away.

The beaten Pole said: "I know I didn't play good tennis. I was pretty confused about my tactics. When I was practising I didn’t feel in the best shape. So I was aware this could happen.

"Usually when I'm coming back, I have some kind of a plan and I know what to change.

"Here I didn't know what to change. I was confused. On a grass court everything happens so quickly. I didn't tank it, but I just didn't know what to do."

Iga Swiatek's 37-match winning streak came to an end on Wimbledon's Court One as wily Frenchwoman Alize Cornet pulled off a sensational third-round victory.

Top seed and world number one Swiatek had not lost since February, when she was beaten by Jelena Ostapenko in Dubai, reeling off six successive tournament wins, including her second French Open title. It was the longest winning streak in women's singles in the 21st century, and now it is over.

The 21-year-old Polish player had not looked comfortable on grass in her opening two rounds at Wimbledon, and she was outsmarted on Saturday by the experienced Cornet, losing 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 32 minutes.

At the age of 32, Cornet is playing a record-tying 62nd consecutive grand slam, matching Ai Sugiyama's record. She is also enjoying her best year at the majors, reaching a slam quarter-final for the first time in Australia before getting to the third round at Roland Garros.

Crucially, Cornet already had a famous Wimbledon scalp behind her coming into this match. Eight years ago, on the equivalent first Saturday of the championships and on the same court, Cornet defeated Serena Williams.

On this occasion, Cornet swept to a swift double break against the former Wimbledon girls' champion, opening a 3-0 lead. Swiatek got back into the opening set by recovering one break, but she could not draw level.

Swiatek then had a chance to break in the second game of the second set, and a 2-0 lead was hers when Cornet went long with a forehand. Yet the lead was immediately squandered, a dazzling stop volley from Cornet saving game point before a looping backhand winner brought the set back onto serve.

From there, Cornet pulled away, Swiatek's belief fading as the match raced away from her. At her 15th Wimbledon, Cornet was able to celebrate another show-stopping moment.

Data slam: Alize in wonderland

This was a 24th career win for Cornet against a player ranked inside the top 10, and a fourth against a world number one – the previous three all came against Serena Williams, all in 2014 (including one by retirement). The world number 37, who reached a career-high ranking of 11th in 2009, was facing Swiatek for the first time and now goes on to tackle Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the last eight.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Cornet – 16/7
Swiatek – 21/33

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Cornet – 1/2
Swiatek – 3/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Cornet – 5/6
Swiatek – 2/6

Amanda Anisimova celebrated the "most special day" of her career after her long game came to the fore once again when beating Coco Gauff.

Anisimova came from a set down to beat her compatriot 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-1 on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

The American world number 25 has now won 12 matches in three sets in 2022, which is the joint-highest tally on the WTA Tour so far this season, level with Beatriz Haddad Maia.

"It was my first time playing on Centre Court and this is the most special day of my career," the 20-year-old told BBC Sport following her success over this year's French Open runner-up.

"It's just a huge privilege to play on this court playing Coco. She is an amazing player, got to the final of a grand slam, so I wanted to soak up the moment. Winning is so special, especially in front of a full crowd.

"There are so many American players doing well and I'm proud of my country and how we have been doing. It was really exciting to have an all-American clash on this court so it was really special."

Next up for Anisimova in the round of 16 is Harmony Tan, who has been one of the standout stories from the first week at The All England Club.

Tan defeated Serena Williams in the first round, following that triumph up with wins over Sara Sorribes Tormo and Katie Boulter.

Harmony Tan produced a "breathtaking" display as the little-known Frenchwoman extended her remarkable Wimbledon run by thrashing British hope Katie Boulter.

A 6-1 6-1 victory on Court Two was achieved in just 51 minutes, a stark difference to the three hours and 11 minutes that it took Tan to fend off seven-time champion Serena Williams in round one.

The world number 115 is through to the fourth round now and assured of at least £190,000 in prize money.

She followed up the thrilling win over superstar Williams by taking out 45th-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo in round two, but kept plenty in reserve for the clash with Boulter, emphatically dismissing the home player's challenge.

Boulter stunned last year's runner-up Karolina Pliskova in round two, but Tan was untroubled as her whirlwind Wimbledon debut reached new heights, making only five unforced errors in the match.

"I don't believe it yet. I think if I sleep a little bit tonight, tomorrow I will believe it, but it's amazing," Tan said in an on-court interview.

"I think I like grass. I've never played on that court, but I really like to play with some slice, volley, everything with my game, so I'm really happy.

"It was really emotional for the first round against Serena, and after that it was just playing match by match and today was really good tennis."

Former British number one Johanna Konta, speaking on the BBC, said: "That was breathtaking from Harmony Tan.

"I didn't expect it to be like that, that easy. Not at all. But there's tennis for you. I expect Katie would like to go and practise and come back and say, 'Can we play that again please?'."

Tan also made headlines in the opening week of Wimbledon when she pulled out of the doubles, citing injury, drawing an initially angry response from partner Tamara Korpatsch.

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.

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