Andy Murray and Serena Williams admitted they were not ready to bow out of Wimbledon after their superstar mixed doubles partnership was ended prematurely.
The All England Club’s first power couple came unstuck against top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar in the third round.
Williams could have been forgiven for treating the 6-3 4-6 6-2 defeat as a blessing in disguise, given she has the small matter of a singles semi-final against Barbora Strycova on Thursday to concentrate on.
But the 37-year-old American insisted playing with two-time singles winner Murray, and being roared on by his home crowd, was an experience she would never forget.
“We had so much fun. We aren’t ready for it to be over,” she said.
“I just love Andy’s spirit. It’s so fun to play with him. He’s so calm and chilled. And I loved having the support. It was amazing. Hopefully I can still have it.
“I think to play on this stage with Andy, who has done so well here for so many years, is literally just a lifetime experience. I’m so happy that I got to experience it.”
Murray, meanwhile, now has nine doubles matches under his belt – following his win at Queen’s Club with Feliciano Lopez and his dabble in the men’s doubles here – having successfully road tested his hip following career-saving surgery.
The 32-year-old Scot will now begin working on his fitness as he builds towards a singles comeback, making a reunion with Williams at the US Open next month unlikely.
“I think I achieved a lot. I got on the court and I think, considering the lack of matches, I did OK,” he said.
“The most positive thing is that my body felt good. My hip anyway was feeling good, so that was positive.
“It’s a lot of physical work now trying to get stronger, really, get a good balance with all the muscles around my hip. I’m doing some physical testing next week.
“I did some pre-Queen’s. It will be interesting to see what’s happened these last four weeks where I’ve been obviously playing tennis but doing not much training, to see how things have progressed or not.
“Then I’ll do four to six weeks of training, then I’ll have some testing done after that again. Hopefully I will have progressed again. But I’ve still got quite a long way to go.”
There were some spectacular exchanges and stunning winners from both former world number ones, dubbed ‘Murena’, who dropped the first set but hauled themselves level to the delight of a capacity Court Two crowd.
In the first set Williams helped bring up a break point with a stunning point-blank volley at the net which even had sister Venus shaking her head in disbelief.
But Soares and Melichar repelled that threat and then forced two break points on the Williams serve, taking the second when the Brazilian pinged a return across court.
The second set went with serve until 4-5 when Soares – Jamie Murray’s former partner – did the family a favour, double-faulting three times to take the match into a decider.
But Murray was immediately broken and the Williams serve also went south as Soares and Melichar raced into a 4-0 lead.
The end came when Murray thumped a return into the net to bring the curtain down on a hugely entertaining Wimbledon sideshow.