Texarkana, TX 70° Fri H 89° L 71° Sat H 84° L 72° Sun H 87° L 71° Weather Sponsored By:

Murray ensconced as British sporting icon

Murray ensconced as British sporting icon

January 12th, 2019 by Associated Press in Sports Pro

Britain's Andy Murray wipes tears from his face during a press conference at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. A tearful Murray says the Australian Open could be his last tournament because of a hip injury that has hampered him for almost two years.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The outpouring of sadness and respect in Britain over the news of Andy Murray's imminent retirement makes it easy to forget the emotional barrier that existed for so long between the Scottish tennis great and sports fans in his own country.

Grumpy, sulky, petulant, cold. That was the initial view toward Murray, who will end his career—sometime this year, it seems—as one of Britain's greatest ever sportspeople as well as a champion of equality, a role model and a shining example of how to maximize talent.

It was a tearful Murray who said Friday his battle with a long-standing hip injury was making his day-to-day life a "struggle." And it was tearful performance on Wimbledon's Centre Court years ago which finally persuaded the British public to take Murray to their hearts.

In July 2012—before he won any of his three Grand Slam titles, his two Olympic medals, or led Britain to its first Davis Cup in 79 years—an emotional Murray broke down in an on-court interview following his four-set loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.

"I felt like I was playing for the nation," Murray said, his bottom lip quivering, "and I couldn't quite do it."

Inadvertently, it might have boosted his public standing more than winning the title.

In an instant, Murray was humanized. His emotions laid bare, it felt like he was finally accepted by the whole country, not just tennis fans who had long appreciated his undoubted talent since turning pro in 2005.

Murray's popularity soared and perhaps it was no coincidence that, from that turning point, he became something of a sporting phenomenon in Britain. He won Olympic gold a month later—fittingly on the same Wimbledon lawns—and his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open soon after.

The following year, he became the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936. In 2015, he inspired Britain to the Davis Cup title. By the time he had won Wimbledon and the Olympic singles title again in 2016, he was firmly in the conversation about Britain's greatest sports star and the public was enamored.

He was honored with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, the same year he rose to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time.

It was no surprise, therefore, that Murray led the news bulletins Friday morning as Brits woke up to the news about his likely retirement, while social media was awash with praise and discussion about his impact on tennis and sports in general.

"Whatever happens next, you've done more than you know," read a tweet from Wimbledon's official account, above a picture of Murray clutching his face the moment he won the singles title at the All England Club for the first time.

While Murray was widely hailed as the epitome of hard work and determination, his work in championing equality in tennis was also highlighted.

"Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come," tennis great Billie Jean King wrote on Twitter. "Your voice for equality will inspire future generations."

Murray, who was helped on his journey by tennis-coach mother Judy, was the first leading male player to employ a female coach in Amelie Mauresmo and often spoke of wanting equal pay in tennis. In a news conference after a loss to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2017, Murray intervened to correct a journalist who said during his question that Querrey was the "first U.S. player to reach a major semifinal since 2009."

"Male player," Murray said, in a nod to multiple Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

"That's my boy," his mother quickly tweeted.

That short interjection cemented Murray's status as a role model for equality.

"I know all of us girls in the locker room are in awe & so grateful for how you always fight in our corner!" Heather Watson, Britain's No. 2 female player, said Friday. "You inspire me in so many ways and I don't want you to go!!"

If his hip can hold up, there was a general desire to see Murray make it to one last Wimbledon tournament before bowing out.

Expect the tears to flow then, too.

"He's too important to Great Britain and Wimbledon history to not have it," former American player Andy Roddick said.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com