What now for Andy Murray?
The next time that Murray plays at the All England Club – and that will be in just three weeks’ time when he returns to the lawns for the Olympics – he will have a feel for how the British public’s attitude towards him has changed; and how there might now be something approaching affection. Before Murray wept on Centre Court, a common criticism of Murray was that he wasn’t emotional enough, that he didn’t show whether he was happy or sad. As the excellent Charlie Brooker wrote in The Guardian before the final: “So Murray isn’t going to win the Merryville Festival of Grins any time soon. What difference does it make to you? Can’t he just play tennis without having to turn around after each point and pull a happy face just for you, like he’s your dad watering plants in the garden and you’re a toddler watching him through the kitchen window? What do you want, a tennis champion or Mister Tumble? Make your mind up, because you’re not getting both.”
While it was not the first time that Murray had cried after losing a grand slam final – there were also tears after he lost to Roger Federer in the 2010 Australian Open final – it was the first time he had done so at Wimbledon, and, for much of the British public, everything that happens at Wimbledon is new. As the front page of The Daily Mail put it, it was ‘the day a nation came to love Andy Murray’, and other newspapers expressed the same sentiment. The public already admired his tennis skills. But the moment that admiration crossed over into affection was that speech, when Sue Barker made him cry.
Ivan Lendl is going to need to build up Murray again as we’re only halfway through the busiest summer of Murray’s tennis life – with the London Olympics and the US Open to come. After losing in the final of the 2010 and 2011 Australian Opens, Murray went into a funk. There isn’t the time to do that now. Murray’s former coach, Miles Maclagan, was undoubtedly right when he told The Tennis Space that the beaten finalist needs a few days to “emotionally deflate”. But he mustn’t dwell on this for too long. Before the summer’s out, he could be the Wimbledon champion (well, the Olympic champion at Wimbledon). And/or he could win in New York.