Andy Murray may have failed in his attempt to become the first British man since 1936 to win Wimbledon, but he has finally succeeded in capturing Britain’s heart, the country’s press said yesterday.
Murray’s valiant defeat to Roger Federer and his emotional post-match interview exposed sides of the Scot not often displayed in public and suggest that he may not have to wait long to break his Grand Slam duck, the papers argued.
The nation’s collective bottom lip wobbled when Murray broke down in tears after the match, with watching girlfriend Kim Sears and the Duchess of Cambridge both succumbing to the emotion.
“Don’t cry girls, he did us proud”, splashed the Daily Mail across its front page, reflecting a shift in the nation’s complex relationship with its leading tennis player.
The Mail has not always offered its unreserved support for Murray, and he has often been accused of being dour and emotionless on court.
He also generated unwanted headlines when he jokingly said his favorite soccer team was any one which was playing England. He has since had to endure a well-worn joke that he is only British when he wins and Scottish when he loses.
Times columnist Matthew Syed said that the positivity shown in defeat meant he had shaken off the traditional British tag of “plucky loser” and had now become “a winner in waiting.”
“His tennis was, at times, sublime,” he wrote. “He started fast, got quicker, and was reeled in only when his opponent started reaching levels of genius rarely seen on Centre Court.”
The Mail’s Martin Samuel wrote: “He did not lose because he choked. He did not lose because he moaned. He did not surrender to injury, or mislay his focus under the incredible weight of history bearing down on him.”
Instead, Samuel added, he was merely victim of being born in the same generation as the greatest players ever to grace a court.
Simon Barnes of the Times also said he “can’t find it in my heart to blame a guy for coming second to the greatest tennis player that ever swung a racket.”
The Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell called Murray “a champion without a crown.”
Reflecting on his public popularity, the columnist argued it was a shame that “love for him may never be universal.”
“For those who wish him ill, it is also their loss, because one day they may have to stand up and cheer him,” he added.
The Daily Telegraph noted that “Murray has at times endured a difficult relationship with the wider sporting public, who have accused him in the past of being surly. However, anyone who witnessed the outpouring of emotions today could be left in no doubt as to how much the pursuit of a Grand Slam meant to him and the respect he held for those who gave him their support.”
Popular tabloid the Sun chose to look forward to the next event in Britain’s summer of sport with the headline “Anyone for Ennis?” in reference to heptathlete Jessica Ennis, one of the country’s best Olympic medal hopes.