The moment Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2013, I raised both hands in the air in a fist and closed my eyes to absorb the moment. It was an event I felt I’d never see. The main event was, of course, a Brit winning Wimbledon but even more so, it was a Scot! (We experience success less than most).
If that was my reaction, then imagine those of genuine British tennis fans. I find the sport very entertaining but I mean those with a real interest. Imagine the reactions of players who had tried and failed on behalf of Great Britain. The reaction of all coaches who had worked with Murray throughout the decades of tennis before this victory. The reaction of his current team of coaches, physios, dieticians, fitness staff etc. The reaction of his friends and family. The reaction of the man himself, Mr. Andy Murray.
Not only was this victory the culmination of 77 years of angst since Fred Perry’s triumph, but it was the product of Murray’s progress throughout his career. This had seen an improvement in Murray from his emergence as a teenager with high hopes year on year. His rise in prominence from potential to ability; from heroic to iconic. As an aside, it will be interesting to see if 15 year olds will be wearing buttoned-up Andy Murray polo shirts as they hang around swing parks drinking in 77 years’ time.
The hope of Murray winning Wimbledon had two possible paths. One could have seen the unfancied Murray claiming an against-the-odds upset to snatch the trophy (see golf’s Lawrie, Paul 1999). This would have provided great jubilation for the briefest of spells in history. However, the second path involved Murray rising in prominence year on year, step by step. We saw Murray claim the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award in 2004; remarkably reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2005 as a wild card (fatigue costing him a two set lead against David Nalbandian); reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2006; became one of only 2 players to beat Roger Federer in 2006… The list goes on.
Eventually all these awards and achievements saw Murray enter Wimbledon 2012 with the usual hope backed up with some realistic expectation. A great tournament with some great matches (Tsonga semi-final in particular) was ended in glorious failure with a 4 set defeat to the impressive Federer in the final. For a man derided for his lack of personality and character, Murray gave us a tear-jerking speech post-defeat that endeared him to the entire nation. We were comforted with an Olympic gold medal, but not satisfied. It fuelled the hunger for the Wimbledon trophy.
The summer of 2013 and the question of whether Murray could go one step further. Retention of his Brisbane International prize and a runners up spot at the Australian Open (losing to Djokovic in the final) was an encouraging start to the year. Losing the first two sets in the quarter final to Fernando Verdasco seemed to suggest a bitterly disappointing run this year. However, true to the dramatic form of his tournament he turned it around to move to the semi-final and ultimately the final.
This set up a third straight open final against Novak Djokovic. The Serb was playing at the top of his game, at times resembling playing tennis versus a brick wall. Completely unbefitting with British performance in other sports, when the pressure was on, Murray dominated and destroyed Djokovic in straight sets.
I have always been one to immerse myself in the crowd reaction regardless of whether I’m there or not. For me, the noise and joy which follow the most incredible moments in sport make sport what it is. The roar of joy, relief, pride and glory is one that will see me through the next 77 years of despair comfortably.
Stuart Fenwick (@StuFenwick7)
Motivational Speaker at Tree of Knowledge (@tree_of)