Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win: Here comes the Son

Published: July 8, 2013
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Andy Murray lifts the cup. PHOTO: REUTERS

Any Murray embraces his prize - the Wimbledon trophy. PHOTO: REUTERS Andy Murray lifts the cup. PHOTO: REUTERS

So it has finally happened. A Brit has lifted the silver trophy so ardently desired but so out of reach for his fellow countrymen. Churchill is crowing in his grave, the ravens at the Tower of London are dancing in their flight, General Montgomery may just give that famous half-cocked grin, the statue of Nelson at Trafalgar Square seems to be smiling, the unborn future Prince of Wales gave an almighty kick to his bonneted mummy, and the Blessed Isles of the Romans look to be deserving of their epithet.

 Andy Murray, perennial bridesmaid to the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic trinity, has nabbed the big one for himself and laid to rest the ghosts of the Great British Hopes, from Tim Henman to Greg Rusedski.

Murray, much like Greg who at the start of his tennis career represented Canada before making the leap across the Atlantic, is not exactly cut from the Union Jack like Henman, and while he is probably happier in the Scottish Highlands than the vales of merry old England, only the meanest curmudgeon would deny the British this sporting achievement.

The Brits have developed a reputation of two things, a stiff upper lip and being the best losers in world sport. Even though they can claim heritage in many sports, successes have been few and far in between. Unlike their American and Australian cousins who’s a silverware closet groans under the weight of numerous trophies and medals the British, much like Bart Simpson, are under achievers and proud of it.

They are football mad but have one title, a win way back in 1966. They invented cricket and most of the game’s traditions trace back to the sporting greens in various shires from Dover to Cardiff, yet the only world title they have is the 2010 T20 WC, a decidedly second tier tournament.

Wimbledon is the world’s premier tennis tournament but for 77 years the crowds there have seen only Germans, Swedes, Americans, Australians Spaniards, etc, lifting the trophy. Seeing the pandemonium for the 2005 Ashes Win or the gold medals at last year’s London Olympics only highlights the fact that the Englishman is starved of two things, the sun and sporting prowess. Until now.

It has taken a long time in coming. Every Englishman knows the name of the last champion as they would know the names of the Royal Family members. Fred Perry, that languid sporting genius won three Wimbledon Championships in ’34, ’35 and ’36. He stands ready at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, bronzed, sinewy and immortalised forever with his wins and his life-size statue. While his sporting prowess got him acclaim throughout the world, it would surprise many to know that he was ostracised in his own time and reviled by the class-conscious establishment. Disillusioned, Perry eventually immigrated to the one place all society misfits used to end up in, the US of A, where he joined the Air Force and flew fighter jets in World War II.

LtoR Andy Murray and Fred Perry.

Andy Murray, in 2013, and Fred Perry, in 1934.
Photo: AFP

Now, in 2013, the gangly lad from Dunlane, Scotland has taken over from his countryman even though he is, like Fred Perry, something of an outsider who has courted controversy in past for his less than patriotic demeanor towards England. It came to a head when he was asked before the 2006 football World Cup of who he wanted to win. His response, “Anyone but England”, showcases the historic baggage of England and Scotland and that here was a Scot who still hadn’t forgotten the Scottish victories at the battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn.

That moment marked the low point of his fractious relationship with the English media and fans. Still, a champion is a champion and Andy has taken on the mantle of being the English poster boy with aplomb.

So how did he win Wimbledon?

The ingredients were always there for Murray. He had the bullet-like shots, the long reach and the serve and volley game so suited for grass, but always seemed to be on fringes of the winner’s circle. It was not easy competing in an era which boasts the Man with the Perfect Game and an unstoppable dynamo who has won 12 Grand Slams on bad knees and a chronic foot problem.

Murray did things incrementally, his appointment of Ivan Lendl was a master stroke and the eight-time champion knew what he wanted out of his temperamental ward. Lendl brought his calm to the play and since working with Ivan, Murray’s Angry Young Man persona has made fewer appearances. The US Open title last year was no fluke, Murray had it coming. He is also a lot fitter and does an annual “boot camp” in Miami in the off-season. His superb fitness was evident in the five set comeback victory against Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals and the way Andy shrugged off any lingering fatigue from that grueling match.  Murray also won the hearts of fans around the world when he showed his sentimental side in a teary post match interview at last year’s Wimbledon Final.

Federer consoles Murray after his Wimbledon loss in 2012.
Photo AFP

His emotional “I am getting there” statement got hearts fluttering and his patriotic credentials were cast in iron when he won Olympic Gold for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics and thrashed Roger Federer in the final, the man who had brought him and England to tears a few months back.

Andy Murray poses with his gold medal at the end of the men’s singles tennis tournament of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: AFP

Now he stands apart from the also-rans and has his name inscribed in gold letters in the honors roll at Wimbledon.

The joy of the nation is a sight to be seen and they now have a genuine, dyed in the wool champion. Honors will flow in, a knighthood (he already has an OBE), endorsements, perhaps even a road or two named after him. Toasts will be raised to him and we may see a scowling Andy statue at Murray Hill. Elton John will write a ballad and for a few days the English will forget about the Beckhams and the ovarian lottery winner due in a few months. But nothing will capture the moment of his win in the world’s premier tournament, the thundering applause and the non-stop shouts of “Come on Andy!”

They say the English summer is three events, the Lord’s test, Royal Ascot and Wimbledon. This year the summer is complete.

Read more by Sibtain here or follow him on Twitter @Sibtain_N

Sibtain Naqvi

Sibtain Naqvi

A writer and social commentator who has written extensively for various Pakistani English dailies. An art critic accredited by the AICA and the Royal College of Art, London, he dabbles in music and sports writing and tweets @Sibtain_N (twitter.com/Sibtain_N)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.