Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Andy Murray's farewell at Wimbledon begins with loss alongside brother Jamie Murray – BBC


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Wimbledon tribute – The best moments of Andy Murray
Andy Murray thanked Wimbledon organisers for an "emotional" farewell ceremony after his final appearance began with a defeat alongside older brother Jamie in the men's doubles.
The two-time singles champion is playing at the All England Club for the last time before retiring later this year.
A video montage of Murray's career was played on the Centre Court big screen after the match, leaving the former world number one in tears as thousands of fans showed their appreciation with elongated applause.
"It feels like a good ending to me. Whether I deserve it or not, I don't know. But they did a really, really good job," said Murray, who won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016.
The Murray brothers arrived on a packed Centre Court to a standing ovation.
Another followed moments after they lost 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 to Australian pair John Peers and Rinky Hijikata.
Murray's parents Judy and Will, his wife Kim and two of their daughters watched on as former BBC presenter Sue Barker conducted a poignant ceremony shortly after.
Murray thanked his family, his team members over the years and the fans for their continued support.
"It is hard because I want to keep playing, but I can't," Murray said on court.
"Physically it's too tough now. I want to play forever. I love the sport."
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Andy Murray looks back on his career with Sue Barker
Fellow Grand Slam champions Novak Djokovic, Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe and Iga Swiatek applauded from the side of the court, alongside Tim Henman – who Murray replaced as British men’s number one in 2005 – and current players Dan Evans, Jack Draper and Cameron Norrie.
Murray is set to appear again later this week, having signed up to the mixed doubles with fellow British Grand Slam champion Emma Raducanu.
"It was obviously very special to play with Jamie, we've not the chance to do it before," Murray, who won the first of his three major titles at the 2012 US Open, said.
"It was a race against time to get out here and physically it wasn't easy but I'm glad we were able to do it one time together."
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Wimbledon has been the scene of many of the defining moments of Murray's career and the emotional ties are why he fought so hard to play one final time.
Murray's chances of a last hurrah had been thrown into serious doubt.
A back issue caused a loss of power and feeling in his right leg during a match at Queen's three weeks ago.
The only option was an operation on 22 June to remove a cyst close to his spine, but it left Murray in a race against time to be fit.
Ultimately, having left making a decision until the night before his scheduled singles match on Tuesday, he realised with a heavy heart it was not possible to play a five-set match.
Going out alongside 38-year-old Jamie in the shorter doubles format was the next best thing.
The plan, which was initially put in place around the French Open in late May, did come to fruition.
Not since 1995 had a men's doubles first-round match been put on Centre Court.
This occasion could not have been scheduled anywhere else.
Murray reached his first Wimbledon final in 2012, losing to Roger Federer in an four-set match which left him in tears and changed public perception about him.
Redemption came when he won Olympic singles gold on the same court against the same opponent four weeks later.
A year on, Murray ended Britain's 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men's singles champion by beating world number one Djokovic in a moment of national celebration.
Another triumph at the All England Club came in 2016, which he says he enjoyed more.
After both victories, Murray walked back through the marbled corridors of Centre Court – like tradition dictates – and was given a guard of honour before stepping on to the balcony to greet the adoring fans below.
The same ceremonial walk was made by Murray again on Thursday night.
While Murray had not won the trophy again, it was the only farewell – of sorts – fit for a player who has led British tennis with distinction.
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Murrays walk out on Centre Court to standing ovation
Talk of the Super Murray Bros dominated day four of this year's Championships.
The famous Wimbledon queue, where fans camp overnight to grab one of the limited first-come first-served tickets for the following day, grew to a line of 11,000 hopefuls by mid-morning.
The Murraynators were there, of course. A group of super-fans, who have travelled the world to watch their hero, slept outside in Wimbledon Park and were rewarded with Centre Court tickets.
If you weren't there with a tent and sleeping bag, your alarm had to be set for a time when nightclubs usually kick out.
Inside the All England Club, fans not fortunate enough to have a court ticket gathered on Henman Hill – sorry, Murray Mound. Hundreds had been in position all day with picnics and blankets.
Back on Centre, supporters took a breather after women's top seed Swiatek wrapped up a straight-set win at about 18:30 BST.
Then, the change of stage began. Down came the net and singles posts, replaced by the longer doubles version.
A half-hour turnaround allowed the atmosphere to bubble with the Murrays' nearest and dearest taking their seats.
Andy's wife Kim was flanked by their daughters, with mum Judy alongside them. Dad Will had travelled down from Scotland to watch.
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Murray gets Centre Court ovation from Wimbledon greats
Andy Murray insisted the brothers were not just playing for show, claiming they had a good chance of winning the match and going far in the tournament.
The match did not pan out as they hoped.
It was clear from the third game that the younger Murray sibling was struggling with his movement.
His 'will to win' – which has become the epitaph of his tennis career – had not diminished, however.
The usual teeth-baring and fist-pumping was on show. As was the chuntering at his team.
Unfortunately, his body was not operating how his mind wanted it to. That's been a recurring theme for the past five and a half years.
At the 2019 Australian Open, Murray broke down in a news conference as he said he thought he would have to retire later that year because of a hip injury.
No singles player had come back to professional tennis after a resurfacing surgery.
Metal-hip Murray not only returned. He returned and won an ATP Tour title later that year. More memorable moments at Grand Slams followed.
But he could not regain the level which made him one of the best players of his generation.
"The injuries have been tough, quite significant injuries," he said.
"We've worked extremely hard just to be on the court competing, probably not on the level that any of us wanted but we tried."
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Sue-prise! Barker comes out on Centre Court to speak to Murray
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