COLUMN: Andy Murray is the greatest British sportsman of all time and should be lauded as such

Thursday, 04 July 2024 at 22:16
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As his retirement grows ever closer, the legacy of Andy Murray is one of legend in the UK and he leaves his indelible legacy on the sport that he brought to the conscious of the masses and established himself as the greatest sportsman that the UK has ever seen.
Murray's career has been one in which he has tasted the highest of highs, lowest of lows but he has still believed. He had resurfacing surgery only five years ago and looked to have his career curtailed. A move seen almost as one in which would give him comfort for his final days.
But Murray who cried at his press conference at the Australian Open the year in which he seemingly was set to retire returned. Miraculously he returned in June to play doubles with Feliciano Lopez at Queen's. A title win that saw his resurfacing come full circle.
He returned that year to play the 2019 Cincinatti Open and from there on continued to build. While he was never the same player as he was prior to 2017, it wasn't really the point. Murray had succeeded when many others had consigned him to retirement and the you tried your hardest but didn't manage to get there bin. He managed to win in Antwerp sealing his first title since returning to the sport and 2020 saw his first top 10 win in three years. He returned to the top 50 and reached his first ATP final since 2019 in 2022.
"Lots of people told me I wouldn't be able to play again, and lots of people told me I'd be able to hit tennis balls but not compete professionally again. That was nonsense, and I want to see how close I can get back to the top of the game," he said at the time.
Andy Murray, a modern day British hero and a true juggernaut of sport.
Andy Murray, a modern day British hero and a true juggernaut of sport.
He managed to keep winning on the Challenger tour, played utter epics wherever he went mostly in five set and five hour matches. For a player who nearly saw his career ended by surgery and had a metal hip, he was certainly put through the ringer before 2024 saw him admit that the end was near. External pressure began to mount and Murray admitted that he wouldn't play much after the summer with the former World No.1 having a holiday booked after the Olympic Games and no plans to return after that. Partly though it was mainly the mob baying for blood and journalists looking to stick the knife in amid Murray's struggles to win matches.
One said that Murray was tarnishing his legacy which in reality isn't the case. Venus Williams for instance continues to play albeit sporadically to this day well into her 40's and is a true tennis legend. When the body says it is time to stop is often when players pack it in and like many legends who have been through Murray's position have said, he is owed the chance to say goodbye how he wants. Instead of a journalist who has never played top level tennis giving him the label of being finished and he should retire. For a player who has left his mark all over the world and not just the UK, it is firmly his choice albeit one that now has been taken out of his hands as such.
Murray's end to his career could and should've been so much more. He had an ankle ligament injury at Miami and miraculously returned to play Roland Garros adding that to his farewell tour as we really finally got towards the nuts and bolts of how it would go. But Queen's spelled a disastrous end. He had a spinal cyst on his back and played through against Jordan Thompson which in the end was a bad decision. He had to undergo a back procedure and left his participation at Wimbledon very much up to the last minute.
He looked crestfallen as he took the practice court with his brother Jamie Murray as expected. A player that has given his life to the sport and also Wimbledon as a tournament where he is a multiple time champion and is the poster boy. Many Brits come from far and wide just to watch Murray. An underdog story also amid the dominance of others, he sums up what it is to be a Brit.
His farewell didn't go as planned but his legacy stands the test of time.
His farewell didn't go as planned but his legacy stands the test of time.
Emma Raducanu for instance won the US Open as a qualifier, she came from nowhere and was unfancied. Murray has won titles and muscled his way into the Big Four. He deserves his flowers and knows in the back of his mind that he should be going out on a high and not a low. But that is sport and one that Murray in the goodness of time will likely accept.
But why is he the best sportsman this country has produced? Living in this country as a child who grew up with Murray, you couldn't escape him. Every Wimbledon it wasn't about the big three, it was about how Murray would do.
Even now players like Raducanu and Draper and even Watson, Dart among others have been judged almost on the Murray scale. He sent a benchmark for other Brits to follow and no player really has reached it. He is a player who stands alone. He is also the greatest for the simple reason of the competition he had to endure. He played tennis in a time where Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic dominated. He would've won dozens of Grand Slams had he not been in that era.
Also while Ronnie O'Sullivan and Phil Taylor for instance have appeal to non sports fans, they don't make you watch snooker or darts. Same with football. Many who won't watch the tennis tour on a yearly basis will tune in to watch Murray and see how he's doing. Akin to non football fans watching the Euro's to watch England and gathering around the TV to watch Jude Bellingham and co.
Murray at his pomp was must watch viewing and even now he receives top billing and has been given wildcards by tournaments further afield for who he is. Earlier this year, the Open 13 Provence tournament director said that Murray means more than players like Alex de Minaur. In this country, any tournament featuring Murray even at 37 is a money earner. Similar now to Raducanu for instance. While he could've won more, Murray has certainly left his mark and will be saluted later this week for a reason.
But even then, the legacy of Murray perhaps won't be felt until he is gone from the sport fully. A true sporting titan who brought success to a country so starved of it. The only chink to his armour is that perhaps he didn't win enough, but his resolve to keep playing when he could've easily retired outweighs that.
A modern day hero, a Scottish warrior and a player that will be missed both in tennis and the country where he is lauded. Sir Andy Murray when the dust settles should be revered as the greatest sportsman this country has ever produced.

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