On Sunday morning, Andy Murray was simply a tennis player—albeit a very good tennis player—but after winning the Wimbledon Men’s final, he has essentially become a “brand”. It is a remarkable transformation that resulted from three hours of compelling sporting drama and a quite stunning success.
Yet there are still those who seem to have a perception of Murray simply as a dour Scot—and actually want to see him lose as a result. I find that very hard to understand.
Yes I am English (actually I’m one quarter Scottish), but I am also British—and proudly so—and there is no way I would have wanted to see a fellow Briton lose out in a sporting encounter of such magnitude.
If I’m honest, there have been times when I have expected Murray to lose, but that’s massively different to wanting him to lose. Britain does have a natural affinity with the heroic sporting failure and our media has the ability (some might say “gift”) for building up a winner only to delight in knocking him/her right back down again.
But it does seem a bit harsh to judge someone based on what is evidently a public persona. There is far more to any professional sport than simply those performances in front of the cameras and paying public—there are almost certainly years of constant training and sacrifice in the hope that you can produce your absolute best when it really matters.
In many ways, it was sad that it took the crumbling of Murray’s emotional walls after last year’s Wimbledon final for the public at large to get a glimpse of the person behind the mask—and whatever type of media society we live in, it was not a divine right to see the “real” Andy Murray. Perception changed, Murray’s results changed (viz. an Olympic gold medal and US Open title) and on Sunday, this determined and gifted young man reached the pinnacle of his sport.
In defeat, Novak Djokovic was pure class (as were his parents who took the time to embrace Judy Murray); and for those who felt in some way disappointed at the triumph of a fellow countryman, well they missed out on that brilliant but all-too-rare feeling you can only get from being just the tiniest part of a fantastic moment in sporting history.
All my own work... almost.