Roger Federer has come away with the bragging rights over fellow tennis great Serena Williams after the pair faced each other on court for the first time.
After both champions won their respective singles ties, Federer spearheaded Switzerland’s 4-2, 4-3 (5-3) victory in the mixed doubles decider at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
“I was nervous returning,” Federer said after the match.
“People talk about her serve so much and I see why it is such a wonderful serve because you just can’t read it.”
“I can’t read yours either,” Williams joked.
Federer and playing partner Belinda Bencic overcame Williams and Frances Tiafoe in the Fast4 format in front of a 14,000 capacity crowd.
“It was so fun. This is super cool that we get to do it at such a pinnacle point of our careers,” Williams said.
“It was a great experience, I’m kind of sad it’s over, I was just warming up.”
“I was so excited, and literally it was the match of my career. Just playing someone so great, and someone you admire so much, and a match that actually means something.”
While the Hopman Cup “means something” to Williams, the match was very much a case of hit and giggle, so it is unlikely to settle any bar-room debates about who deserves to be crowned the most dominant player of this or any era.
Federer and Williams have won a whopping 43 grand slam singles titles between them, with the American claiming 23 of them.
Williams officially turned professional in 1995 and Federer joined her on the circuit in 1998, but neither is a regular on the mixed doubles circuit, meaning a meet-up was never overly likely.
Before the match Williams had talked of wanting a selfie with Federer, and the pair had their special moment after the clash, posing together on the court with a selfie-stick.
Defending champion Switzerland will qualify for Saturday’s final if it beats Greece on Thursday. The United States, which lost to Greece on Monday, cannot advance.
The much-hyped contest lived up to the billing immediately, with Federer almost running down a Williams smash into the open court.
Williams and Federer both served well against each other, but Federer’s sublime touch at the net proved decisive.
Williams grabbed at her right shoulder on several occasions late in the second set but played down any injury concerns ahead of the Australian Open, saying it was “totally normal” to be a bit stiff at this time of year.
Earlier, Federer beat Tiafoe 6-4, 6-1 in the men’s singles before Williams levelled the tie with a comeback 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Bencic.
Both players are hoping to add to their extensive trophy cabinets with successful title defences at the Australian Open, which starts on January 15.