Andy Murray: An Undervalued British Legend

January 1, 2018

 

The year is 2024, world number 22 Kyle Edmund has just reached his first Wimbledon quarter final aged 29. This is the first time since Andy Murray's retirement five years previous that a British male has reached a Wimbledon quarter final. It's been a brilliant fortnight for the South African born Brit in which he finally managed to capture the imagination of the British public in a way one can only do at SW19. With spirited fight backs in the opening week Edmund bravely battled back etc etc...

 

Obviously, this will probably all prove to be nonsense. It's also in no way intended to be a slight on Kyle Edmund, if he only ever manages to make it to one Wimbledon quarter final then he'd still have had an exceptional career. And of course he has the potential to achieve greater success, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. He's currently the best young talent we have in this country and he's still a mile off where Andy Murray was in terms of potential and achievement at that age. Again, that's not a dig at Edmund, because very few athletes are in the same league of talent as Murray. As far as this country is concerned he's a once in a generation competitor. Yet, as he prepares (hopefully) for his return at the Australian Open next month, it strikes me that British sports fans don't appreciate what they have. From an early age the British press tarnished him with the brush of being anti-English (despite being married to an English woman) and his monotonous voice has led to him being branded miserable and boring by the public. You hear it every time he wins Sports Personality of the Year. 'How has Murray won that, the man's got no personality', apparently these clowns want SPOTY to be a straight shoot out between Phil Tufnell and Jimmy Bullard every year. If these people looked a little closer, they'd see a man with a personality that every young sportsman/woman should aspire to have. Someone who was written off as a choker after losing his first five grand slam finals had to show immense character both on and off the court to overcome that and achieve what he has. When you look further at his off court persona, particularly in recent years, his personality becomes more impressive still. With his continued support and promotion of the women's game, whether it be in terms of equal prize money or just fair recognition amongst the games press and fans, Murray has been one of the few male voices that's made an effort to be heard on the issue. As a personality and public voice, he doesn't get the credit he deserves, and due to the image that's been painted of him over the years it remains doubtful as to whether he ever will.

 

Since 2002, only one host Grand Slam nation has had the joy of watching one of their own, win the title on the final Sunday. It was of course a present delivered to the British public by the man himself in both 2013 and 2016 (obviously the Yanks have been spoilt at the US Open by the Williams sisters et al on the woman's side of the game). Not only that but he's the only man to win his country back to back singles gold medals at the Olympics, one of them being at his home games in 2012. Add to this his talismanic performances in 2015 to deliver Great Britain their first Davis Cup title in 79 years and it's a wonder that often the most popular response to anyone mentioning 'Murray' and 'Britain' in the same sentence is to state that 'he's not British, he's Scottish'. Or perhaps even more infuriatingly they'll deliver the old, and not once funny joke; 'he's British when he wins, and Scottish when he loses'. These responses have always baffled me, Murray is clearly a man that performs at his best when representing his country, yet his nationality is so often the biggest stick that's used to hit him.

 

In ten, twenty, or even thirty years time, when the likes of Kyle Edmund and those that follow him are busting a gut to reach the second week of Wimbledon. I would suggest that we'll look back at the last five to ten years and feel grateful that we were watching tennis, when Andy Murray was Britain's number one.

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