Andy Murray: 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.
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.
So VERY WELL DONE TO ANDY.
Well done Andy. I thought for a long time that all the vitriolic hate was directed at the English , by the Scots. Reading some of the posts here I can see that I was sadly mistaken.
Well , I am English and proud of it , as I am proud of you , a young Scot who did his damndest yesterday at Wimbledon to win the Championship.
You have a lot to be proud of , young man......march on.
For the rest of you racist bigots out there......Get a life !!!!
No doubt the same doubters will give it the old "I always supported him" if / when he does win a slam.
It's really easy to kick a guy when he's down but just ask yourself this; "what have I done in my life to bring a smile to a million British faces?"
It's amazing what a wee guy from scotland can achieve with some self-belief and a lot of hard work. Inspirational.
I just can't believe some of the really bitter and hateful remarks that some of you people write about Andy.
I thought the match yesterday was absolutely brilliant and I believe 100% that Andy did himself and us proud and he certainly gave every inch of his heart, skill and determination to win, but unfortunately he was beaten by a genius yesterday.
I think he was honest and honorable when he spoke after the match and my heart went out to him, and my tears and his were genuine and I know that he will win a Major soon, and it won't just be one!
I will always love and support him.
Why does someone have to break down to be liked in this world. This guy was at school at the time of the Dunblane school massacre. Anyone will tell you when you walk away from a tragedy with your life intact you are going to look at life a bit differently. Think back to what you were like in your younger days. Did you have his discipline and drive not matter the result to get back up again and again, i very much doubt it. Well done Andy Murray some of us think you have been doing a great job for many years and keep going.
I lived in scotland for 2 years when my husband was in the forces and can assure you that this english/scotish hatred only exists in the hearts of simple minded people who live to create and distribute hatred amongst different nationalities.
As for murry's comment about being scotish and not english, well he is so where is the harm in his statement. I am sure if someone from up north was mistaken for a scotsman he would comment that in fact he was :english: and not scotish, would there be such a fuss made about that comment?