Tennis royalty was on full display Tuesday as Serena Williams and Roger Federer had their first-ever clash in the mixed doubles at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
Federer teamed with Belinda Bencic to win the match in straight sets under the Fast4 format and win the Group B tie for Switzerland.
It is the biggest mixed doubles drawcard in the 31-year history of the tournament, which is also expected to be its final edition.
With 43 Grand Slam singles titles (Williams 23, Federer 20) and more than US$200 million in prize money between them, the two 37-year-olds had welcomed the chance to face each other on the court in an official match for the first time.
Expectedly, the tie was decided by the mixed doubles, after both Federer and Williams won their earlier singles matches.
A capacity crowd of 14,064 turned out for the tie, and they saw Federer and Bencic largely capitalise on the mixed doubles inexperience of Williams’ teammate, Francis Tiafoe, to clinch the deciding rubber under the Fast4 format, 4-2, 4-3 (5/3).
But the rare defeat couldn’t take the gloss off the experience of facing Federer for the first, and almost certainly the only, time.
“I was so excited and literally it was the match of my career,” a beaming Serena said postmatch.
“Playing someone so great and that you admire so much in a match that actually means something.
“It is really great and special to go against the greatest of all time.”
Federer said he was thrilled to play against one of the few players with more Grand Slam titles.
“I really enjoyed playing against Serena, what an honour and pleasure,” he said.
The pair – considered the greatest in their sport – posed together for a selfie after the match.