I still don’t actually really have any words. I still don’t know how to articulate it but I’m not sure if I ever will because, really, will anything ever do Andy Murray enough justice?
Today is what I’m calling the worst day of my life. Whether this is a hyperbole that I am believing to be true because it’s still been less than 24 hours since that press conference, since the news broke, and it still feels very fresh and raw, or whether in a few weeks or months time I might realise that this isn’t the absolute worst day of my whole entire life – it might be up there but it’s not the worst ever – I’m not sure yet. But right now it does feel like the worst.
I’ve only been watching tennis since Wimbledon 2013, and even then it was only Andy’s matches for that first year. In that short time, in the few years that I’ve been watching tennis, there has never been a retirement of a player that I’ve ever truly cared about or invested my time or emotion into supporting and watching. I’ve often wondered, especially over the last couple of years since the resurgence of Roger and Rafa after everyone was expecting them to retire, how it would feel when one of these great players who I have invested a lot of time and emotion into supporting and watching finally retired. And let’s be real, I too thought that it would be Roger or Rafa and, even then, I thought that would be a long way off.
The day has finally come and, like I said, right now it feels like the worst day of my life. It’s so much worse than I could’ve ever imagined, so much harder and so much more difficult to deal with. It hurts. I joked that no boy has ever hurt me as much as Andy Murray announcing his retirement has, and yeah it’s funny and you can take from that what you want, but it’s true. It hurts so much. It hurts so much more than some petty boy heartbreak or petty frenemy drama ever has. It hurts because I’ve realised how much Andy Murray has actually impacted my life and I don’t want to lose that player from the sport. And it hurts because he is the last person who deserves this to be happening to him, he doesn’t want to retire and he’s being forced to because of an injury that isn’t just ruining his career, it’s ruining the quality of his life off the court.
We aren’t just losing any tennis player. We are losing someone who was one of the best players within the best era that this sport has ever seen and will ever see. We are losing one of the players that makes up the best set of rivalries that men’s tennis has ever and will ever have. Andy Murray cemented himself at the top of the game, alongside the world’s best, as part of the legendary, iconic, prestigious big four of men’s tennis. He wasn’t secondary to Roger, Rafa or Novak, he was (and always will be) a member of the big four. To have achieved all his feats – three Slams, two Olympic golds, world number one, Davis Cup, a whole host of ATP titles including the year-end ATP Finals – whilst battling against the three other best players in the men’s game makes them even greater achievements. If he was alone in this era he’d be on twenty Slams himself, hundreds or maybe thousands of weeks at number one, every tournament in one season could be won by him, but he had to do it the hard way and he still did, he still achieved everything there is to achieve in tennis. Everything.
I saw this as a tweet earlier so I take no credit but he ended a 76 year drought for any British men’s singles player to win a Grand Slam title. He ended a 77 year drought for any British men’s singles player to win Wimbledon, our home soil Slam. He ended a 79 year drought for Britain winning the Davis Cup – yes, he was part of a team, but he was the vital part of the team. He didn’t just achieve a lot for tennis, he achieved a lot for British sport. He is arguably the best British athlete. The best one we’ve ever had in this country. So to lose him as an active, playing, competitive athlete is one painful loss for the entire country.
Andy is the most knowledgable tennis player. It’s something always said within the tennis world, but his tennis IQ is ridiculously high. He is such a student of the game, he can analyse the game like no other, reel off stats and evaluate performances easily. And the knowledge aside, he is one of the hardest workers. For him, it’s a gritty process. It’s one of those where he will set his mind to achieving something, and he’ll make sure he does it. He’ll put himself through the turmoil of training, hours of drills, hours in the gym, hours on the court just to make sure he achieves what he wants. He wanted that Wimbledon title, it might not have come on his first try but he put his head down and worked for it. And he got it a year after his first attempt. He wanted Britain to win the Davis Cup, he pulled that team over the line until they were holding the trophy. He wanted world number one, he went on a crazy match winning streak at the end of 2016, winning titles left right and centre, to not just secure the odd week at world number one but the year-end ranking too. He did it the hard way, he has the most grit and determination of them all, and that’s why he is the one who deserves this the least. He always achieves what he sets out to achieve, so being unable to return to the sport he loves so much must kill. That’s the worst part. He wants to be able to play and properly compete so badly, he’s done every single thing he possibly can to be able to be back at a competitive level, but it’s not enough. It’s impossible. This isn’t an injury that can be fixed, it’s one that has to be lived with forever and just managed to be the least bad it can be. And competing unfortunately doesn’t happened with that.
Whilst he can’t go back to that level, it doesn’t erase everything he achieved and he gave us. As tennis fans, it’s been a pleasure to watch this absolute icon of the sport. As the British public, it’s been a pleasure to be represented by such a talented, gifted, hardworking athlete who broke so many records and reached so many milestones for us.
The wonderful thing with Andy is that it doesn’t stop at the tennis. He is one of the few players unafraid to use their voice and platform to really speak out about huge social and political issues. He is a feminist, and an amazing one at that. The response from the female players and the WTA themselves after heading the news of his plan to retire today has been huge. It says a lot about Andy that the WTA as an organisation are writing about all he’s done for women’s tennis. No other male player in the world would get that, even at retirement when everyone is celebrating them. He has always, and it’s pretty obvious will always continue to campaign for equality. He doesn’t just do it in tennis either, he calls out sexism in other sports and just in general. He speaks about political issues in the UK and America that he is clued up on, he always voices his support for stricter gun control in America. It’s very, very rare that we see a tennis player, especially a male one, talk so seriously about these subjects. Most sit on the fence or casually agree to the good stuff when a specific question is posed to them at a press conference. That’s fine, that’s their prerogative, but what Andy does is so important. He’s not afraid to stand up for what’s right, he’s not afraid to show his emotions to remove toxic masculinity fuelled stereotypes, he’s not afraid to fight for a cause or voice his opinion on something that others might find controversial.
As a woman, especially one who loves tennis and can see the inequalities happening all over the sport, it means everything to me that Andy is always eager to speak out against sexism, in favour of equality, and to voice his feminist views and status.
As I said earlier, I always wondered what it would feel like when one of these players finally retired, and Andy is the hardest one for me to deal with. Andy was my first ever favourite and, despite how much I’ll always loudly voice my love and support for Denis Shapovalov or scream about how Serena is the GOAT and a queen, Andy will always be my number one when it comes to tennis player faves. Andy Murray is the player who got me watching tennis, he’s the one who got me interested in the sport that I now want to carve out my career in.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and I can sort of relate to that upon Andy announcing his upcoming retirement. It never really hit me until last night after hearing about his press conference that, actually, had he never got me interested in the sport, my life would be so different now. He has changed my life, he has shaped my future and my career path. Would I ever even have wanted to go into tennis coverage without having Andy Murray there to get me watching in the first place?
I speak a lot about how I got into tennis. My mum would have it on TV and wouldn’t let me change the channel to watch some Disney programme until the match was done, and we all know matches aren’t on a time limit. But I only ever started actually watching it myself and going to turn on the TV to the tennis when it was Andy Murray at Wimbledon. In 2013, I sat and watched all his Wimbledon matches. On finals day we had a BBQ with some family friends but I didn’t really engage, I was running inside the house from the garden every two minutes to check on Andy, watch him in his second final against Novak trying to end up on the other side of the scoreline as he had the year before. I ran in when he served for the match, absolute perfect timing, and watched as this man who a year before I had heard about all over Twitter ended the 77 year drought us Brits had for a Wimby title. We’ve all gotta start somewhere, and my love for tennis came from watching Andy Murray matches, and Andy Murray matches only, during Wimbledon 2013. And what a year to start watching, the year he won it.
On the 8th July 2012, Andy made his first Wimbledon final. The country went wild over what he could achieve as a Brit for the first time in over three quarters of a decade. I didn’t understand. I saw it all over Twitter, my parents were watching it whilst I sat in the same room and stayed on Twitter with my earphones in, but I had to glance at the TV every so often to understand what the hell everyone online was talking about. I didn’t understand tennis, or Wimbledon, or who Andy Murray really was.
On the 8th July 2012, I tweeted why did murray cry? atleast he got 2nd:/ like my god, I really had no clue. Fast forward less than seven years later, I am halfway through the degree that I am using to get a career in tennis coverage. I have been watching tennis more and more seriously every year since then, until a couple of years ago I really started watching everything, the entire season start to finish.
364 days after that very uneducated tweet, I sent out a very different one. One that I wrote after having run into my living room from the garden for the millionth time to check on Andy in the Wimbledon final, when I caught the final game when he served for the title. It had a very different tone. A year later, I was at Wimbledon on finals day, albeit on Court One for the junior finals, but I was there nonetheless. My interest had peaked that much, just one year on from when I first started watching nothing but Andy Murray’s Wimbledon matches. Another year later I ended up on holiday during the tournament so used to go lay on a strip on the beach that was in front of all the sports bars and watch their TV every time Murray had a match. I burnt my back laying there watching off of their TVs from the distance. Sometimes I’d go in and buy a bottle of water and sit there for however many hours it took for Andy to win. And then, another year later in 2016, my ultimate dream came true. I saw Andy at Wimbledon, on Centre Court, en route to his second Wimby trophy. I saw him there again a year later, opening play as the defending champion. Even last year when he barely even played and was still in the early stages of the comeback (which we now devastatingly know is no longer a comeback) I saw him up close and personal at Eastbourne.
I did a post on how tennis can engage younger viewers. As someone who religiously watches the sport as a teenager, and now a twenty year old, I know the things that made me that interested. My first point was that you need to get people invested in the players to keep them watching. Andy Murray was my version of this. I would only watch Andy Murray and at first only at Wimbledon, and then that opened me up to the other Slams, the rest of the ATP tour, the WTA tour, and a whole host of other players both past and present. None of that would’ve happened if Andy hadn’t have been the player who really engaged me, got me to turn on the TV and find out when he was playing so I could sit down to watch him.
I definitely didn’t realise until today how much Andy had really done for me in terms of being the person to get me interested in the sport that now means so much to me. As ridiculous as it may sound to you, when things have been really, really difficult, it’s tennis that can keep me going. If it’s a really low, awful day that I’m struggling to get through, sometimes it’s something as simple as ‘oh, but that tennis match is on tomorrow so I’ve gotta stick around to watch that’ or ‘oh the Australian Open is a few weeks away so I gotta stick around to see who wins that’ which will really keep me there, keep me going and surviving and hanging on when I’m having a difficult day and just need to make it to the night when I can go to sleep and reset myself for the day ahead.
Andy is a treasure. A national treasure in Britain, a treasure to the sport of tennis, a treasure to the entire sporting world and, really, a treasure to the world. His talent, the hard work he puts in, the way he uses his platform to fight for good causes, the way he inspires people, the way he is as a person. A true treasure. If you’re not already following him on Instagram, you should. He’s always comedy gold, and there are dozens more examples.
He is the greatest loss this sport has ever suffered, tennis will be worse off for the loss of Andy Murray as an active, competitive player.
Today is the worst day of my life, so I can’t imagine how it’s felt for Andy. I have sobbed like a baby throwing a tantrum, I have barely slept, I have been hurting all day. Today is the day I’ve truly realised that it’s not just sport, it’s so much more. But instead of focusing on the devastating parts of this, because there are sadly so many, it’s more important to focus on Sir Andy Murray and the legacy he’s leaving behind. He’ll be back somehow, I’m sure he will. It might take some time but he’ll be involved in tennis one way or another. Here’s hoping in a few years I’ll be presenting the tennis coverage and he’ll be alongside me whether it be as a guest, a coach, a pundit, my co-presenter (lol a gal can dream). Now I’ve really seen how Andy’s got me into the sport, I need to go fulfil my own dream in tennis the way he fulfilled his. And even then, we still have some time left to enjoy with him as a pro player. At least one more match but here’s hoping he can get the ending he deserves at Wimbledon somehow. He deserves to do this on his terms.
So, I’m sorry if this has been a bit all over the place or hasn’t made the best sense or has typos and that dotted around the place. But I had to write this post today. Friday 11th January. While it was still the day that he announced his upcoming retirement. It’s still so fresh and raw, like I said earlier, but I’d rather get it down now whilst I can really feel the impact of it, and Andy means so much and deserves so much that I couldn’t address anything else on this blog, tennis or not, without addressing this first.
Thank you Andy Murray. Thank you for the memories – both sat at home watching you win the biggest titles on TV and sat on court witnessing your brilliance in person. Thank you for everything you have achieved, for always being hardworking and leaving no stone unturned – as the Tennis Podcast put it earlier. Thank you for giving a platform to good causes and using your voice to talk about important social and political issues. Thank you for being a feminist. Thank you for breaking stigmas surrounding emotion in men and mental health. Most importantly, thank you from the bottom of my heart for opening me up to the industry I am now building my future and my career around. It may have taken a retirement announcement for me to realise it, but thank you Andy Murray for literally changing my life.