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Sir Andy Murray – Our King of the Centre Court

Dogged, dedicated and determined to succeed against sometimes overwhelming odds, Sir Andy Murray OBE overcame injury and major surgery to bounce back onto the international circuit in 2019.  He’s going from strength to strength and this year already proving to be our King of the Centre Court.  

Andy at Dunblane School, age 6

When did you first start playing tennis?
I was three years old when I started playing tennis. My mum used to take me and my brother to the local courts in Dunblane.

With mum Judy and brother Jamie

Why did you choose tennis?
My mum played professionally when she was younger and then became a tennis coach, so I guess it was natural that we would play tennis from an early age. I also played a lot of football and actually got invited to train with Rangers when I was 15, but at that stage I decided I needed to focus on one sport. I was competing by that stage and had started to win a few things, so chose tennis.

Who was your inspiration?
I used to love watching Andre Agassi when I was a young player. He had his own style in terms of his look and the way he played.

How much is talent and how much is hard work?
I think you have to have some talent to begin with but there is no underestimating how much hard work you need to put in to make it to the top. That’s what makes the difference between good players in any sport and great players.

Andy with wife Kim

What role did your family play in helping to progress your career?
My family have been hugely instrumental in my tennis career. Having Jamie around when I was younger was obviously a big inspiration for me and helped me develop my competitive spirit – it was such a huge goal for me to beat him that it really drove me on when I was younger. My parents have been very supportive all the way through my career, driving me to matches or travelling abroad with me when I was younger, and they still come now and watch my games whenever they can. Obviously Kim has also played a huge role and been a great support to me, particularly in the last couple of years when injury threatened to end my career.

How do you stay cool when umpire decisions don’t go your way?
It can be tough. Tennis is such a mental game that one point going against you can totally swing the result of a match. Because of that it’s important to try to stay cool and move on quickly from any upsets, otherwise your opponent can easily capitalise on you being distracted. I’ve managed to learn that as I’ve got older but it’s not always easy.

When and what do you eat before and during a tennis match?
I usually eat about an hour before and will have something like chicken, vegetables and rice that will give me enough energy for a long match. Taking in enough fluids before a match is also important especially if I’m playing in hot weather. During matches I take energy gels every 20 minutes. My team make up a sports drink before the match and I have saltier drinks to help with cramp.

With Wimbledon trophy in an ice bath

You have overcome so many injuries – how do you manage to do this?
The last couple of years have been tough overcoming injuries as I faced a big challenge with my hip. Now most athletes try to work on their injury prevention as much as possible. I’ve got a full-time physiotherapist who travels with me and I have daily sessions so we can address any issues early.

Which achievement are you most proud of?
Probably winning my first Olympic gold medal in London. I’d lost at Wimbledon to Roger Federer a few months earlier on the same court, so to then come back and win against him in the Olympic final was a really special moment for me, particularly in front of a home crowd.

Tell us about the charities you support.
I’ve been an ambassador for WWF and Unicef for quite a long time as they both work in areas that are important to me. For WWF I’ve been quite involved in their campaign to grow tiger numbers and they are making good progress with that. I’ve also worked a lot on illegal wildlife trade. For Unicef I have been involved in supporting campaigns around specific emergencies like the Syrian refugee crisis. Once I retire I’d like to be able to do more, and hopefully go and visit some projects they are working on.

Do you really have ice baths?
Yes I do. I find it really helps my muscles recover after a match. You have to stay in for about eight to ten minutes to make it effective.

What advice can you give to the next generation of aspiring tennis players?
Work hard, build a good team around you and look after your health. If you don’t have easy access to a tennis court, what way can you develop a child’s game at home? There are lots of things you can do to develop your ball skills and hand/eye coordination. For younger children, using a balloon instead of a ball can be a good way to develop your ground strokes. Throwing a bean bag in the air can be a good way to practice your ball toss for your serve. And there are lots of videos online which can help you improve your footwork which can all be done in a small space.

“What’s the best route into the game today? Joining your local club. They usually have junior programmes and most of them will have a coach so you can start learning how to play at any age.”

Longest match?
Five sets against Juan Martin Del Potro in the Davis Cup – the match went on for five hours, seven minutes.

Greatest win?
That’s a tough question. Last year (2019) at Queens and in Antwerp felt pretty special as they came after my surgery and I’d had moments where I never thought I’d play again, let alone win tournaments.

Winning the 2012 Olympic gold

Most memorable moment?
Winning gold at the Olympics

Favourite tournament?

Most liked to have played against?
Andre Agassi


(This article was first published in May 2020)

Photography: (C) ANDYMURRAY.COM  @ANDYMURRAY(Insta), Andre Agassi Foundation for Education

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