In late May, with many of the world’s best tennis players eyeing the red soil of the French Open, Sir Andy Murray prepares for the grass at Wimbledon 300 miles away on the other side of the English Channel. was devoted.
Anyway, that was the plan. But then his wife, Kim Sears, had to travel to Scotland for a few days to run errands at the hotel he and Murray owned. So he was left alone with his four children, all under the age of eight, to participate in the morning ritual, which began at 5:30 a.m., where he made breakfast, got everyone dressed, and dropped them off at school. .
Three hours later, after giving birth to his last child, he headed to England’s National Tennis Center in Roehampton, where he was treated by a physiotherapist and trained on the grass courts and gym for several hours. In the afternoon, we also had an interview and filmed a promotional video. It’s all part of the next phase of Murray’s bizarre late-career quest to end metal hip and all that he wants.
Perhaps that means he’s the first British player in 77 years to somehow recapture the magic of a decade ago when he won the sport’s most important title. Perhaps this could simply put him in the top 30 or 20 again, and all the doctors and skeptics who called him stupid for trying to entertain his future in professional tennis after hip resurfacing surgery in 2019. It may have just been proven wrong.
Or maybe he’s procrastinating as long as he can continue to be the full-time tennis veteran, entrepreneur, and man who achieved that brilliance all those years ago.
The default demeanor that comes with Murray’s grueling physical play always seemed miserable, interspersed with near-constant verbal self-flagellations that drew spectators into his fights. But there is also joy in training, in competition, in the quest to improve and get the best out of yourself while doing what you love, even if it means fighting a seemingly inferior opponent. Murray knows that nothing else in his actions can match this feeling. So he continues, the consequences are terrible.
“I envy Yannick Sinners and the young guys who have great careers ahead of them,” he said in a recent interview as he made his way to the tennis center parking lot at the end of a busy day. “I want to do it all over again.”
Ten years after the moment Britain has been waiting for since the Great Depression, Murray is back at the All England Club. Back in 2013, he was just a young man in his 20s who was walking his dog. London on the south bank of the Thames.
He was crazy about tennis, but now he’s a man. A husband who has been married for eight years. Father of four children. Officer of the Order of the British Empire (hence “Sir”). art collector. An entrepreneur with a portfolio that includes hotels, clothing lines and other investments. And wise man, mentor and occasional practice partner to the next generation of British tennis stars such as Jack Draper and Emma Raducanu.
Sixteen-year-old Russian prodigy Mira Andreeva also wants to spend time with him. She called him “so beautiful” earlier this spring.
There are a few things I regret. Especially in his twenties, he trained like the devil and thought his time with friends and family would get in the way of his relentless quest for any kind of success. Speed training again. Do more lifts, do hot yoga, hit a practice ball. Why did he make the coach’s life so difficult? Why did he eat so much sweet and sour candy? Why did he often play video games and stay up until 3am?
Murray’s lazy take on Tuesday’s first-round match against Ryan Penniston (UK) is a player who has won only three Grand Slam singles titles, and while a great champion, he’s the all-time record holder. It’s the same as Stan Wawrinka who doesn’t even think about it. wonderful. Novak Djokovic has won his 23rd title. Rafael Nadal has 22. Roger Federer, 20 years old. They are the so-called Big Three.
Djokovic recently said he doesn’t like the term very much because it excludes Murray, who has been competing since his days on the junior tennis circuit. His longtime pals practiced together at the All England Club on Saturday.
There’s a reason Federer made Murray a central figure at last year’s Laver Cup send-off party. Murray has beaten Djokovic, Nadal and Federer 29 times, including two Grand Slam finals against Djokovic. In one of elite men’s tennis’ most competitive eras, he reached 11 Grand Slam singles finals. Only Nadal, Federer and Djokovic held the No. 1 ranking from 2004 to 2022. And he endured peerless pressure all the way to his first Wimbledon title.
“It’s been a hell of a career,” said top doubles player Jamie Murray, who in 2015 teamed up with brother Andy to help England win its first Davis Cup since 1936.
Alternatively, it was a hell of a career until that grueling physical style took a toll on Murray’s back and ankles, eventually leading to a degenerative hip condition that prevented him from running at the top in 2017. In January 2018, Murray underwent his first hip surgery, which was unsuccessful. For the rest of the season, everyone watched him languish in agony and pain.
At the 2019 Australian Open, 23-time Grand Slam doubles champion Bob Bryan placed his breakfast tray on Murray’s table and told Murray about the hip resurfacing surgery he underwent the previous summer. The surgery allowed Bryan to return to high-level doubles after just five months. Elite singles was something else entirely.
“‘All I want to do is play,'” Bryan said Murray told him.
Later that month, Murray posted a stunning photo on Instagram of him lying in a hospital bed.
“I now have a metal hip,” he wrote after about two hours of resurfacing, which replaced the damaged bone and cartilage with a metal shell. “I feel a little bruised right now, but I hope this takes away the pain in my hip joint.”
Murray’s pain became so severe that the main purpose of the surgery was to allow him to play with the children.
Over the next six months, he tackled physical therapy and rehabilitation as he did tennis. he was a full time father. he played golf He was playing with his old friends.
Murray’s longtime agent and business partner Matt Gentry said the downtime gave Murray a window into a life without tennis. It wasn’t terrible.
Murray has long admired American sports stars for their entrepreneurial approach to their careers, and began planning opportunities with Gentry. Murray then launched a clothing line. He has invested in TMRW Sports, along with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, a company that is exploring new ways to combine sports media and technology, including new golf competitions. He is part of a group building thousands of padel courts for sports clubs across the UK.
In 2013, he bought the Cromricks House, a 15-room castle-like hotel near his childhood home in Dunblane, Scotland, for about $2 million. This land was of particular significance. In 1982 his grandparents held his 25th anniversary party there. He and Sears had their wedding reception there. His younger brother Jamie also got married at this facility.
Murray and Sears recently completed the first phase of a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of the site, which will eventually build cabins on a nearby lake. The hotel houses several artworks from Murray’s private collection, including a series of prints by Damien Hirst and David Shrigley.
For now, Murray mostly listens to pitches and writes checks, but said he plans to be more involved in his own business ventures once he’s done playing tennis. If he gets his way, that day won’t come for a while.
“Why shouldn’t he keep playing?”
Murray’s mother, Judy, a former player and Murray’s first tennis coach, said tennis gave her son a strong desire to compete, an analytical mind that loved studying the game and its history. said she was able to express many parts of her identity. .
She said that from an early age, when a game of cards or dominoes went wrong, those cards and dominoes flew across the room. He had older brothers and older brothers who desperately wanted to win, and many said it was impossible for a boy from a small Scottish town with bad weather and few indoor courts to win Wimbledon. Now those same people say his days are over.
“If he still loves it, why shouldn’t he keep playing?” Judy Murray said in an interview Friday.
Murray said he has a rough idea of when and how he wants his tennis career to end, but he also knows it may not be his choice. Federer wanted to play more, but his knee wouldn’t allow it. Murray has seen footage of Nadal limping off the court after sustaining a torn muscle and hip injury in Australia in January, saying he will never fully recover.
Murray knows that the next desperate sprint for a drop shot, or one of the signature points scored while running back and forth across the baseline, could be the last. But he could still be doing this job three years from now, and it comes with its own set of complications.
He recently ran out of a stash of bulky, extra-support tennis shoes that Under Armor manufactured for him until his last partnership contract expired. So Murray had to call his friend Under Armor founder Kevin Plank and ask if he could make more shoes. Plank did.
In early June, when Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, and nearly all other key figures were playing in Paris, Murray was competing in tennis’ minor league Challengers tournament at the Racquet Club in Surbiton, southwest London. rice field.
The field consisted of deep Pro Tour cuts and early round casualties at the French Open. Hundreds of spectators packed into the stands set up on wobbly scaffolding.
Murray had a few bouts with South Korean craftsman Chung Hyun to see why he’s so confident he can beat anyone in the world on the grass in an era when few pros master surfaces. It just showed: Slicing backhands one after another low until they barely bounced over the opponent’s shoelaces. A dying volley in front of the court and a stabbing volley to the baseline. A slice serve that slides out of the court. A softball that looks like a meatball, but is actually a knuckleball that wobbles in the air and twists when it hits the grass.
Two weeks later, with two Challenger Trophies on the line, Murray’s 10th win in a row, he won his first five while commuting from his home in the London suburbs, where he went to his spare bedroom to rest for the month. was camping.
He then lost his first match to top 20 player Alex De Minaur of Australia in his final match at Wimbledon at London’s Queen’s Club. The day took advantage of Murray’s heavy legs and lackluster serve. Murray tried not to read too much into the results.
Every journey has peaks and valleys. As Murray’s hot yoga class teachers often say, even if the day feels closer to the end than Murray thought, the only way out is to get through it.