WIMBLEDON, England — Andy Murray performed a majestic bow on Centre Court, then sheepishly apologized to his royal fans — Prince William and new bride Kate — for his unkempt appearance.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watched from the front row of the Royal Box on Monday as the fourth-seeded Murray beat Richard Gasquet to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
"If I'd known they were coming, I would have shaved," the British star said, smiling. "I was thinking to myself as I came off I was sweaty and very hairy. I said to them, 'I'm sorry, I'm a bit sweaty.'"
At least Murray had a well-practiced bow ready. Last year, he was watched by the Queen on her first visit to the tournament in 33 years and bowed low with one arm bent behind his back and one in front.
The players weren't obliged to bow for William and Kate. But after shaking hands with Gasquet, Murray waved to three sides of the Centre Court crowd before turning to the Royal Box and repeating his very proper bow as the couple stood and applauded.
"I hadn't planned on doing it before," Murray said after beating Gasquet 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2. "When the Queen came to our match last year we were told she was coming and that we would bow when we went on and off the court.
"But today we weren't told anything, so it was just sort of off the cuff."
Murray said it was "very nice" to meet the couple, who he said told him: "Well done on the match. Asked me how it was out there. That was it. Wasn't a long conversation."
William and Kate later returned to Centre Court and saw Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal in action.
The visit wasn't announced in advance and wasn't part of their official royal duties. They arrived at about 12:30 p.m. and were given a warm ovation by the Centre Court crowd when they took their seats in the Royal Box 25 minutes later.
In keeping with Wimbledon's all-white dress theme, Kate wore an off-white, knee-length dress with tiered layers and embroidered straps. William wore a blue suit on a warm day in London, with temperatures about 86 degrees.
Security was noticeably tighter at the All England Club, and a police helicopter circled the grounds early on during the visit.
There seemed to be a royal theme at Wimbledon on Monday. Six-time Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King was sitting behind Prince William and Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, was also on the invitation list.
St. James's Palace said Kate is a tennis fan and has been to Wimbledon "quite a number of times." William visited Wimbledon several times as a child with his mother, Princess Diana.
William and Kate were married on April 29. They will begin their first overseas state visit since their wedding in Ottawa, Canada, on Thursday.