Andy Murray says he will bid farewell to Wimbledon with ceremony and tributes

Andy Murray says he will bid farewell to Wimbledon with ceremony and tributes
Andy Murray says he will bid farewell to Wimbledon with ceremony and tributes

WIMBLEDON – As the tears flowed, no one wanted them to end. No farewell speech, no hug with brother Jamie and certainly not her tennis career.

But we’re getting to that point for Andy Murray, and he got a fitting send-off Thursday night when the lights went out on July 4. Fitting, in part, because it’s not even a perfect goodbye for a man who considers leaving the sport one of the toughest challenges of his career.

He still plays mixed doubles with Emma Raducanu here, as well as at the Paris Olympics later this month. There will be more farewells to come. And players such as Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev said this week that they expect Murray to return here within a year for one final singles match. Murray could be back on Centre Court with Radukanu within days.

Although it was a video montage of a farewell from her heart, Sue Barker returned to the court as the legendary godmother of tennis. Suddenly, we were all Murray in 2012 after losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. “I’m trying this and it’s impossible…[voice cracks]- y”.

Murray was joined on court by Sue Barker. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The first was a doubles match he had to overcome: a lopsided 7-6, 6-4 loss with his brother Jamie to the Australian pair of Rinkee Hijikata and John Pearce.

And then all the endless emotions Murray must have felt in the days, weeks, months and even seven years since he walked off the court with a hip injury against Sam Querrey can come to the fore. First, in true Murray fashion, he quickly ran off the court, presumably to use the bathroom. Hijikata and his teammates congratulated him on his great career when he wasn’t on the court.

And then, with his wife and two of his three daughters, Sophia and Edie (watching him for the second time), Murray returned. Finally ready for the big goodbye.

Barker took to the stage and they shared a warm embrace, followed by several luminaries of the sport on the court. Novak Djokovic, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe were among them, along with current and future greats such as Iga Sviatek. Fellow countrymen Tim Henman, Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper were also there. Holger Run too. Of course, why not.

Roger Federer, who used to be at the All England Club, was not surprising.

We were then treated to a video montage of the best moments of his career, with the relaxing melodies of his compatriot Andrew Cotter and one of those incredible remixes that would not be missing in any 2024 montage. This time a cover of Radiohead’s Creep.

His fellow Big Four players Federer, Nadal and Djokovic paid their respects. “Sometimes it felt like you were against the world,” Djokovic said.

Stars past and present applauded Murray. (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

When we saw Murray win his first Wimbledon title 11 years ago, there was a huge cheer. As they did when the video cut to Murray’s famous “male player” with a reporter. The story on and off the court was shown in several clips.

Federer said afterwards of Murray’s relationship with tennis: “There’s always a beautiful attraction in it.” There were some sad clips relating to the injury, images of Murray with his children and then Nadal saying: “It was an honour to play against you.”

“Always…” Djokovic added. “With you,” Federer said.

A little sad? Sure. And Murray may have been a little uncomfortable with all the attention. But it seemed like we all needed it.

Murray’s magnetism has dominated the venue for almost two decades since his first appearance in 2005. It was the first match of the tournament where everything else fell into disarray. People stopped checking the live scores and cared only about the court they were on. Players entered the field only after the two current top British players, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper, had completed their match – a victory for the former, who was completely overshadowed.

All eyes were on centre court.

What’s more, the Murrays are done and everyone can be a part of the celebration. After the video ended, the interview with Barker began and Murray adopted the groom-to-be wedding speech mode he has practiced throughout his career.

The Murray brothers played their first Grand Slam match together before the ceremony. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

He joked about the ridiculousness of facing Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at the same time: “They were good.” As his children looked on, Murray said: “I’m trying to make it quick. Both my kids are up now and it’s past their bedtime.” He added that they asked for piglets the day after his back surgery, which is a dream come true. limited his singles play on this course for the last time.

Then the revelations begin. Like how he was sick in a taxi home after his second Wimbledon title. Another vomiting story was at a tribute to his wife when he talked about throwing the bag at his opponent the first time he came to see her play. After their first date, he asked her for her email address. “I’m not sure that’s normal,” he said.

As for retirement, Murray hopes to spend more time at home and says he would rather be in the coaches’ box at Wimbledon next year than watching from the posh seats. He reiterated that acting is not interesting at the moment.

Fans gathered outside Centre Court to watch. (Andrei Isakovich/AFP via Getty Images)

Of course, he was fighting back tears. Mostly when he paid tribute to his support team and spoke of the difficulties of the past few years, and then when he thanked his parents. “I can cry like Roger, it’s a shame I can’t play like him,” said the typically self-deprecating Murray after losing to Federer in the 2010 Australian Open final. Murray was not the only one on Thursday night; indeed, on Centre Court and in front of the millions watching around the world, most were struggling to keep up.

What really shone through for Murray, both in his interview with Barker and then in the post-match press conference (where he launched into a self-deprecating analysis of his performance), was how much he didn’t want it to end. He retires because he has to, not because he wants to.

“I want to keep playing, but I can’t,” he said. “It’s very difficult physically.”

“I want to play forever. I love sports. They’ve given me so much… I don’t want to stop, so it’s hard.”

Murray considered quitting tennis one of the hardest things in his career. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Federer said Atlético Last month, as with most players, people don’t even remember how they retired, but Murray was desperate for one last singles match on Centre Court to cheer him up. He was denied that an abnormal cyst on his back was the cruelty of retirement from tennis.

But this, five and a half years after her last retirement at the 2019 Australian Open, where she played next, was still special.

It’s a shame that he and his career had to end.

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