The Man Who Never Fell Out of Love with Tennis

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photo by Getty Images

Bill Simons

Wimbledon

In the dusk at 8:41 PM, a last volley skipped by Andy and Jamie Murray. And, except for his mixed doubles match with Emma Raducanu and the Olympics, it was over for Sir Andrew, the most accomplished sportsman to ever emerge from these British Isles. The Wimbledon crowd rose, tears fell, tributes flowed.

The greats of the game – Roger, Rafa, Novak, Serena, Navratilova, all had their say. Who doesn’t adore this sportsman?

They saluted his grit, his ferocity and how every tennis combatant out on the court is on a lonely journey to a dream. As part of a star-studded video tribute, Serena observed, “We know the pain, but that makes the joy even greater when it comes.”

Time and again, Andy wept, overwhelmed by the moment. He confided that he still would like to play. His passion runs deep. This man still adores the craft he so brilliantly mastered. But his pain is deep – long ago his body rebelled.

Yet his humor remains. He recalled that when his wife, Kim Sears, first watched him play at the US Open, he vomited in front of her and again on his opponent’s racket bag. And when she still liked him, he knew she was a keeper.

Murray saluted his loyal team, who were always by his side, his parents, who let him go to a foreign land to pursue his destiny, and his four kids. Never mind that for years they wake him up at 5 AM, and they asked him for piggyback rides the day after his back surgery.

As the beloved commentator Sue Barker came out of her retirement to stage a lengthy tribute interview, Novak, McEnroe, Navratilova, Swiatek, and Tim Henman, among others, looked on to salute the man known for his “beautiful torment” and unwavering will to win.

For his part, Andy spoke of the loneliness of the tennis journey. He said, “Regardless of the highs and lows, the losses and the operations…I always came into work the next day and gave my best. That’s what i am most proud of.”

And so it was with a generous dose of emotion that Wimbledon bid farewell to its two-time Olympic gold medalist and the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years – their gallant knight.

Deep into the twilight, Centre Court cameras clicked and ladies and gentlemen from Mertens to Manchester offered a last round of applause under London’s steel-gray sky. The man with the steel hip was stepping aside. “I’ve never fallen out of love with tennis,” said Andy. “but this feels like an ending to me.”

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