And so, it has ended today in a nail-biting 5 setter in Australia. Andy Murray has finished his career with a typical display of gutsy determination making us all believe in the impossible, but ending with the reality of defeat.
Last Friday, when he tearfully announced his retirement, I tried to tell my wife the news without crying myself. I failed abjectly and made my lip bleed as I bit it furiously to pretend that I was holding it together. (Note to the missus – it was not a ‘pathetic display” but emblematic of what a sensitive and kind person I am.)
If Andy was in front of me now, you bet I would tell him to his face I love him. And to paraphrase Billy Crystal at the end of “When Harry Met Sally” let me make a declaration.
I love it that you showed such grit and determination in every match even though you often looked like you were totally knackered.
I love it that you won Wimbledon when it seemed impossible that anyone from this country ever would.
I love it that you clearly are a really good bloke, believe in equality and everyone likes you.
I love it that you are not afraid to show your emotions without self-pity.
I love it that you sent yourself and your reputation up on TV and Social Media.
Despite the dislike you evinced as an 18 year old for making a joke about not supporting the England football team when bantering with Tim Henman, (as if anyone would seriously support Scotland if they had a choice) you have redeemed yourself and become arguably the most loved and loveable sporting individuals.
There is something for us to ponder from this tennis greatness.
The cliched response would be to point to Andy’s unremitting persistence as a metaphor for our own need for unstinting effort and resilience. It’s a cliché because it is bleeding obvious.
Our professional lives are increasingly a refuge from the turmoil of our crazy political institutions. I’d suggest that we take this lesson from my beloved patron saint of the backhand slice.
“People think I am boring because my voice is flat and unemotional”, he once commented. Yet his tennis career was always exciting to follow. We have to be less instinctively judgemental about the people we work with and look at them with a more forgiving perspective. Try to assess what people achieve and not always the manner in which it is achieved.
Andy Murray was not loved for much of his career but is being universally mourned now that it is over. If you have a prejudice about a team member, try to decide if there is a different way to look at how they behave. In an age of divisiveness, we need to be slower to judge.
Farewell Andy. You made us all dig deep and we will miss you. Let’s be honest, the rest of the British squad is pretty rubbish.