Andy Murray's Everlasting Impact Goes Way Beyond The Tennis Court

His exit from the Australian Open today does not define him as a sportsperson
20:05, 20 Jan 2022

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The headlines today following Andy Murray’s round two Australian Open exit were all too predictable. Questions of retirement surfaced once again after his loss in Melbourne and even left the man himself unsure about what the future holds.

“Making second rounds of slams is not something I find particularly motivating. I want to be doing better than that. It depends on how I get on this year results wise and how I perform in the big events,” he said.

Yet Murray isn’t defined by how he performs in 2022, in the twilight of his career. He became Britain’s first Wimbledon men’s singles champion since Fred Perry, has won two Olympic golds and three Sports Personality of the Year titles. That’s what we will remember him for on the court, but his everlasting impact goes way beyond those white lines. 

On a personal level, he slowly transformed from a shy introvert into an outspoken pillar of British sport. It’s easy to forget the man we see today was once pillared by the British press for his comments about the England football team in 2006, and as a young man, he failed to win over the public and certainly wasn’t held in the same regard as his squeaky clean predecessor, Tim Henman.

Yet he did something Henman never did, and made himself a winner. He became the nation’s sweetheart in 2012 and 2013 with Olympic and Wimbledon successes and yet simultaneously managed to tread the impossible line between being Scottish and British perfectly.

Murray became more emotionally available which helped him strike a chord on serious subjects. His tears after the Wimbledon final were followed up with an interview encouraging men to open up about depression while his journey into fatherhood changed his perspective on life, and the sport, completely. 

He became a voice for feminism, but his actions supported his words. His mum has been a huge influence on his life, Amelie Mauresmo was seen as a radical appointment when he made her his coach and he was consistent with his messages campaigning for equal prize money.

Just this week he complained women’s tennis was not as accessible on Australian television and he has repeatedly corrected reporters who seem to forget the women’s game exists. 

“Have I become a feminist?” Mr Murray wrote in a blog recently. “Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have.” More to the point for Murray, is the casual nature in which he goes about talking, reporting and discussing women in sport. He simply doesn’t have to think about it, because it is just who he is. This isn’t a media-trained PR stunt, he just cares. 

“Your voice for equality will inspire future generations,” said Billie Jean King as Murray was shown a video when it looked like he was retiring at the Australian Open in 2019. It takes male voices, as well as females, to create true equality. In this sense, and on the court, Murray has been a true champion.

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