I have sometime heard people say, ‘I know Andy Murray is one of our best, but I don’t really like him’, or ‘he’s just always angry’. To be honest, I had never agreed with this view of the man, and have always held him in high regard. Perhaps this is due to the fact that my younger brother plays tennis often, and use to play at county level, being reasonable good for his age (He used to have to travel quite far to find someone that matched his skill). In some ways I have always thought that Murray may be a little bit like my brother, I even think they have a similar look! My brother is not an ‘emotional’ man, I of course when I say that I mean that he just doesn’t show it. But knowing him as I do, I knew that tennis games could bring deep emotional strain. Those who didn’t know him, or who didn’t understand the pressures of the game, wouldn’t perhaps have realised this about my brother. His emotions would only ever come out a high pressure moments, and even though I was aware of how he felt, I would always be slightly surprised to see his public displays of emotion. How much more then, would those who didn’t know my brother personally, find these moments surprising?
This is why I was not very surprised to see Murray’s emotions displayed so clearly for the whole world to see yesterday. I remember thinking ‘yes, of course you feel like that, you’re like my brother, I think he would feel the same’. On the other hand, I was also not surprised that the news reporters and tennis supporters were a little shocked. Wasn’t this the man that was always grumpy and seemed not to care?
My heart goes out toMurray, for he is a great tennis player, but he has never been good at ‘public relations’. And why should he be? His job is to play tennis, not to people please – although the two are connected, I know. But the ironic thing in all of this is that while Murray was trying so hard to repress his tears for fear of the shame they might bring, they were what brought him his glory. Although he may not have wanted to seem ‘weak’, the fact is what he showed us was that he cared, and he cared as much, and more than, us. And this is what has won the hearts of the nation.
I read the following this morning and thought it an excellent summary of Murray’s Victory (you can find it here: http://sport.uk.msn.com/blog/wimbledon-blogpost.aspx?post=24192a56-6e17-47d9-9f2a-e14c0d7cf434&_nwpt=1)
A Hero, if not a champion
Today was a lose/lose situation for Andy Murray. He was facing the best player in the world ever in a home tournament where he could – theoretically – have ended Britain’s search for a Grand Slam trophy. And as every Englishman knows, Murray is a man who can even turn a win/win situation to his own disadvantage, right?
Wrong. Murray may not have done the impossible in beating the Emperor of tennis but he did achieve the unthinkable in winning over the hearts of a nation.
In a venue that stands for everything he is not – neatness, suavity, privilege and the establishment – Andy Murray produced an unchoreographed and inspirational performance that overshadowed even a record-breaking feat by Wimbledon’s best-loved champion.
- Federer: an old man is master of a young man’s game
It was like a scene from Gladiator. The plucky Celt, after beating off a few worthy but expendable challengers, was brought onto the stage in a battle the promoters had billed as deciding the future of the empire. He was supposed to spit and curse defiantly before surrendering meekly to be spared to fight another day only by the magnanimous and forgiving crowd.
But Murray hadn’t read the script. He came out with confidence and gusto, keen to win every point, not just stay in them. This was a figure that bore no resemblance to the mumbling, muttering, awkward, overgrown teenager that BBC viewers had come to know, often begrudgingly, as their number 1.
Even so, Murray was not to find redemption in victory, that would have been too easy. Once Federer awakened to the threat and raised his game it became clear that he had too much for his challenger: too much skill, too much power, too much authority. As we’ve seen before, he seemed to float above the court effortlessly hitting the lines or dropping the ball over the net.
In chasing shadows, Murray slipped and fell heavily. For a few moments he lay on the turf and in front rooms around the country the munching of Pringles was interrupted by an echo of the criticisms of his detractors. “This is where he pretends to be injured,” or “First it was his shorts, now he’s bound to start blaming his shoes.”
There was the barest hint of angry fire in his eyes as he regained his feet but a couple of points later he was throwing himself – heroically, not despairingly – across the court to chase another thunderbolt fired from whatever mountain the Swiss gods live on.
The brilliance which he showed in the first and second sets and the bravery of the third and fourth would have been enough to dispel any negative headlines from the thoughts of Fleet Street subs. But what happened next was truly extraordinary. Barely had Roger Federer lifted the trophy when a microphone was thrust into Murray’s face and his pain and disappointment was exposed to the scrutiny of millions of strangers.
This was the time for shifty, uncomfortable Andy, whose eyes glance furtively anywhere except for into the camera, as though looking for a means to escape. Instead we were presented with a human being who did what he felt was right even when every sinew of his body was urging him to run off and hide.
He’d endured the spotlight for more than a month but spoke with heartfelt thanks to the people on whose behalf he had been hounded and persecuted by camera crews and flashbulbs. Time and again he broke down but refused to give up. Suddenly it occurred that Andy Murray needed and deserved our sympathy, wanted our approval.
It had never occurred before that his failure to deliver the honours that our proud history and, well, general Britishness so richly deserved was a matter of any personal angst on his part.
Then the penny dropped.