On July 8, 2012, the Scot Andy Murray did something that no man had done in 74 years: Play in a Gentleman’s Singles Final at SW19, better know as Wimbledon. After four straight years in the semi-finals, he finally made it through, but waiting for him on the other side was probably the best player in the history of the men’s game: Roger Federer.
I must confess before I write any more: I have long been an Andy Murray fan, even writing a blistering letter to him at BackSeatFan.com.
I have defended him through his three grand slam final defeats where his set count was 0-9. Why my fellow tennis fans always asked me.
And my answer never seemed to be enough, but it has always been simple: The guy can flat out play. When he wants to, his forehand can be one of the best in the game. And hands down, his backhand can be lethal. But for the past four years, he hasn’t played offensive tennis. He’s the fittest player on tour and can play as long as anyone, but something wouldn’t let him be offensive.
Enter great Ivan Lendl and he has finally started to play like the man I’ve known he could be. He man has all the shorts in the game and one of the biggest hearts. That mentality is what endeared me to Rafael Nadal so many years ago. It’s who I am and who I would be if I were that good of a tennis player. It’s why I felt tears as I crossed the finish line of my marathon this past June.
Sadly, on July 8, I had to watch as Murray won the first set, squandered the second and watched in horror – but not surprise – as Federer took control and claimed his 17th Grand Slam title.
But here is where the story changes. I was gutted. I thought he had it. I thought the curse of Fred Perry had ended. But when Murray took the microphone and cried through his speech, he won over the hearts of every British tennis fan who had held back for so many years. My best friend’s brother even texted me, “I am a Murray fan now.”
So, why the sudden shift? Heart. Plain and simple. A man stood there in his Wimbledon whites with nearly the entire crowd and a heart-broken Kingdom cheering him on, and cried. He wanted to win as much for himself as them. And so another year goes by and the Kingdom must wait and wonder how long they must wait.
But here’s the thing: They have a champion in Murray. And for that, they and I am proud. It’s about the heart. Watch the video of his speech and judge for yourself.