SERENA Williams insisted last night that she would consider an approach from Andy Murray to be her mixed doubles partner at Wimbledon – as the former World No.1 confirmed he plans to double up on his return to SW19 after a hip operation.

While one sticking point to this headline-stealing double act may be the fact the 37-year-old, also back pain-free after a knee injury, has not played the mixed here for 21 years and will be reluctant to jeopardise her attempts to equal Margaret Court’s record with a 24th major singles title, the younger Williams sibling said publicly yesterday that she was “feeling better now” and was “definitely available”.

The Scot, who has until Wednesday to make a decision on a prospective partner, appears to have settled a debate in his camp about whether or not he should play the event. Having previously been rebuffed by new World No.1 Ash Barty and been lukewarm about the idea of teaming up with Maria Sharapova, he could hardly argue that Serena – who won the mixed title here with Max Mirnyi in 1998 – wouldn’t be a “solid partner”.

“Look, I've spoken to a number of players about playing,” said the 32-year-old, who is using doubles as a springboard to a singles return in the autumn. “Obviously the one thing with the players that are in the singles is that's their priority. I understand that. I appreciate that.

“If I'm going to play mixed, which is the plan, you obviously want to be playing with someone who's going to be there for the whole event, and they're in it to try to win matches and win the event.

“I appreciate with singles players that's not always going to be the case. But I mean, obviously she's arguably the best player ever. She would be a pretty solid partner.”

Having previously been undecided about the idea of risking his body in the event that the mixed and men’s events created a logjam of matches, the warm weather which is forecast in South West London this weekend had helped make up Murray’s mind. The men’s doubles competition, in which he will play with Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, isn’t scheduled to get under way until Wednesday.

“Yeah, the plan's definitely to play,” said Andy. “Conditions look like it's supposed to be good for the fortnight, which is a positive thing.

“I sort of … got spooked a little bit by speaking to some of the doubles guys, asking them why they don't play mixed. And it was for the reason that they had some years where they've been backed up.

“Sometimes the mixed is not the priority to get on the court. They get backed up a lot. It's not easy.

“Obviously I haven't played lots of tennis. That was really the reason for kind of not being certain on it. But with the weather looking like it's going to be pretty good, I'm up for it, yeah.”

Whether or not Williams’ intentions were genuine or not, she was certainly playing along yesterday. “I'm feeling better now, so I'm definitely available," she said. "I mean, we just have to wait and see. I like to be tongue-in-cheek. Let's see how my knee's going. I'm finally doing good .. and I don't want to, like, go back. But I played here before back in the '90s. Obviously I don't remember who asked who. I did win, so it's something I'd consider.”

The younger Williams sister – a veteran of no fewer than four SW19 singles finals against Venus – also had words of wisdom for the former World No.1 when it comes to the subject of sibling rivalry, with Andy and Herbert on a collision course with Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski in the third round of the men’s doubles. “Don't look at 'em,” she said. “Literally look at the ground, don't look at them at all. Disconnect. Disconnect.”