It was the kind of searing, humid summer’s day when lifelong memories are forged, when the sights, sounds and the pulsating sensations were the building blocks of an unforgettable experience.

At the centre of it all was an expert craftsman, cementing the structure together with careful, studied, determination and furious endeavour.

Andy Murray’s explosively cathartic final victory at Wimbledon in 2013 - making him the first British man to with the tournament in almost 80 years and the first in the open era - will live long in the thoughts and sentiments of any Scot who witnessed it.

As Djokovic’s return hit the net in the final, match-winning point, the image of Murray dropping his racket and removing his cap, pumping the air with both fists, roaring into the sky with his face contorted with unrepressed joy, remains one of the great sporting moments.

While “greatness” may be subjective, and moments of greatness all about context, for me at least, Murray’s win ranks with Muhammad Ali coming off the ropes to pummel George Foreman in 1974; Diego Maradona’s second goal against England at the 1986 World Cup; and Sam Torrance winning the Ryder Cup for Europe in 1985.

All were occasions when, as a spectator, all you could do was to sink back in your chair, catch your breath, and listen to the sound of your heart beating.


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If that was all Murray had done, he would still have achieved the status of a sporting legend in these parts, but he did more… so much more.

He would win other Grand Slams, dozens of other tournaments, two Olympic gold medals; he would single-handedly power Great Britain to its first Davis Cup win in 79 years, and become the world’s number one tennis player in, arguably, its most competitive-ever era.

Perhaps his greatest victory was his last - an indoor title in Antwerp in 2019 - because he achieved it while playing with a metal hip, following major surgery and two years of gruelling recovery.

This is likely to be Murray’s last season as a professional tennis player and his final appearance at Wimbledon in a few weeks’ time will provide scenes of emotional outpouring unlikely to be repeated in this, or any other sport, in this country.

It will be an opportunity to celebrate, not only the successes of one of our most talented and determined athletes, but also to recognise the impeccable way he has gone about his work over the years.

In an age of the "influencer" - overpaid, entitled, image-over-substance young people, who believe their value to society is simply to exist - Murray stands as a beacon of endeavour, fortitude, and single-mindedness.

Tennis is perhaps the most demanding of sports on players’ physical, emotional, and psychological resources.

To get to the top they need to be technically gifted and, athletically, to be at the peak of their potential, but to stay there demands reserves of superhuman will, industry and strength of character.

The top professionals are highly paid and they have the reward of being feted when they win. What sets Murray apart, in my mind, is that he has continued to put himself through the arduous, physically and mentally punishing regimen of being an elite athlete, year after year, long after he ceased to be competitive at the highest level, purely for the love of the sport.

In a country where we celebrate the flawed genius of naturally gifted underachievers, again Murray stands apart as a world beater who reached the top because he wanted so much to get there, more so than because he could.

With the exception of Sir Chris Hoy and Liz McColgan, it’s difficult to think of another Scottish sporting figure who consistently achieved global success through hard work and commitment.

From the earliest age, Murray exhibited a rare sense of purpose, leaving home in Dunblane and the comfort of friends and family to live in Barcelona so he could attend an elite tennis academy where he rubbed shoulders with contemporaries like Djokovic and Nadal who would become lifelong adversaries.

The Herald: Andy Murray with wife KimAndy Murray with wife Kim (Image: PA)

His decision to leave home was all the more remarkable because he had been a pupil at Dunblane Primary School on the day of the 1996 shooting, when 16 of his schoolmates and a teacher were killed by gunman Thomas Hamilton, a tragedy that continues to haunt him.

As a young professional, untutored in public relations and in dealing with the media, he was criticised for a perceived sullenness and lured into elephant traps like joking that he would be supporting “anyone but England” at the 2006 World Cup, which turned him into a hate figure among many fans at Wimbledon.

His transformation into an articulate and self-assured media performer was done solely through a reliance on his own resources and an innate intelligence, rather than on highly paid professionals.

Throughout his career, he has remained resolutely his own person, supported by his parents and his wife Kim, and he astutely turned those who were against him in his favour on his own terms and through his sporting brilliance.

He quickly learned that the best place to do his talking was on the tennis court and, within a few short years, he went from pariah to darling of the centre court.

He didn’t need a PR adviser to become known as a staunch advocate of equal rights for female tennis players and women in general. He did so simply by saying what he thought, even correcting journalists on some occasions for their unconscious bias.

After he was knighted in the 2015 Queen’s New Year Honours list, he remained resolutely his own person. Typically, he felt “a bit uncomfortable” receiving the honour and said that he didn’t like being called “Sir Andy”. In match reports and media coverage he still insists on being referred to as Murray.

In a country where we have to look hard for our sporting heroes, it’s doubtful we will see Murray’s like again. While it may be a few years since he was at his majestic best, his retirement later this year will be a time of sadness for people like me whose lives have been so enriched by his achievements.

Wimbledon, next month, will be especially poignant as it has been the scene of some of his finest performances. Irrespective of how far into the tournament he goes, we should be thankful for the opportunity to stop what we’re doing momentarily, to reflect on his achievements and to thank him for the memories.