It was a great moment of catharsis when that small, snitch-like tennis ball hit the net. 77 years of dashed expectation, crushed hopes and continual embarrassment had at long last been exercised. The BBC’s coverage, although akin to a slightly elaborate Hollywood film with its dramatic music and endless slow motions shots caught the mood perfectly. For a nation which has not enjoyed the spoils of success at Wimbledon, this was a carnal moment of triumph which will be etched into the collective story for as long as those who witnessed it are around to tell the tale.
My first memory of Andy Murray is something of an anecdotal one. I cannot put a precise date on it but it was summer and I was watching the Scottish Television news sports feature. Having ascertained which exotically named Bosman would be on his way to Glasgow, although Bolton could still scupper the deal, this teen and his soon to be ever-present mother appeared in the token non-football feature which STV deign to do. Little did I know that this gangly streak of potential would actually fulfil his promise.
Andy Murray’s long path to the pinnacle of tennis has been a complicated and difficult one. The clenched fist to the press box on Centre Court was a pointed reminder that his relationship with the press has been a tempestuous one; it was not too long ago that they were ready to characterise their darling as something of a dour, un-cooperative bottler.
An athlete within an individual sport requires something more than your mere footballer or rugby player; I hope Wayne Rooney enjoyed his jaunt to the Royal Box but that was the closest he will ever get to equality with Andy Murray in a sporting arena. To exert such mastery in such heat against a player like Novak Djokovic in such a concentrated spell showed that Andy Murray has now acquired the grit to see things through. In the past the accusation was often levelled that he could not cope with a setback. While the ability to acquire mental toughness no doubt comes from within, a huge amount of credit must go to Ivan Lendl for toughening Murray up. It is rumoured that his lips flinched with happiness but nothing more when victory was secured.
Yet again it was a wonderful moment to be British. In a weekend in which we excelled at rugby, strode forth in cycling and won at Wimbledon it would not be obtuse to describe this island as a land of hope and sporting glory. As with London 2012, Murray and friends have reminded us that we are actually, if we put our minds and bodies to it, quite good at this sporting thing.
Thank you Andy Murray, a nation salutes you.