Queen puts royal pressure on Murray, top seeds in first visit to Wimbledon in 33 years

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II made her first appearance at Wimbledon in 33 years Thursday — applauding Briton Andy Murray as he won his second match and shaking hands with a giddy Serena Williams, who showed off her curtsy.

Wearing a white dress, a bright turquoise coat and matching hat, the 84-year-old queen braved scorching temperatures as she greeted onlookers and met former champions such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova before greeting the tennis tournament's top seeds.

Williams, who wore a formfitting white top and skirt, had talked at length about her efforts to perfect her curtsy and sport more conservative clothing — the defending champion is known for outrageous outfits such as a skintight black catsuit and fluorescent orange micro-shorts.

Smiling widely, Williams took a deep curtsy as she met the queen. Her sister Venus Williams, who was wearing a glamorous mauve dress, also appeared to curtsy as she was introduced to the monarch.

Neither Serena nor Roger Federer, who also met the queen, were scheduled to play on Center Court, where the monarch watched tennis from the Royal Box.

Murray, the only British singles player left in the tournament in a year of exceptionally poor showings by the host country, appeared nervous at first but went on to score an easy victory against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

The fourth-seeded Murray said that as they walked out to court, he took care to coordinate with his opponent when they would bow to the Royal Box. Spectators roared and wolf-whistled as the two players bowed together in the queen's direction both before and after the match.

"There's obviously some nerves, there," he said, referring to meeting the queen, adding that he probably got "a bit of extra luck" in his play because of her presence.

"It's probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us ... Don't know whether she'll be coming in the next few years, but I definitely enjoyed it," he said.

Although in decades past, the tennis club maintained a tradition of a bow or curtsy to royal attendants, that practice was dropped in 2003. Still, many indulged the monarch Thursday.

Thousands of people welcomed her arrival earlier in the day.

"She looked stunning, she's just amazing," said Debbie Moody, a 45-year-old nurse, after watching the queen's arrival. "It's a shame she hasn't been for so long, but I'm so glad she has decided to come back."

"We are here for the tennis, but I'm delighted the queen turned up as well. I love her smile when she's greeting people," said Romey Allison, a retired 53-year-old attending with her husband.

The queen, who attended alongside the Duke of Kent, left Wimbledon after watching Murray's match — to the disappointment of top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who skipped out on the chance to meet the monarch beforehand because he was too busy preparing.

The last time the queen visited in 1977, she presented Virginia Wade with the ladies' singles championship. No Briton has won a singles title since.

Although the monarch isn't known to have a particularly strong personal interest in tennis, the royal association with Wimbledon spans more than 100 years.

The queen's, grandfather, King George V, became patron of the All England Club in 1910, and the tradition has been maintained since.

The queen's only other visits before 1977 were in 1957 and 1962.