Yesterday afternoon a nation gathered round their television screens in the hopes of watching a male British player become Wimbledon champion for the first time in 76 years. Sadly it was not to be, but runner-up Andy Murray is taking more away from the tournament than the £575,000 prize money.
Murray has enjoyed a phenomenal amount of home support throughout his career, but his shy interview manner and avoidance of the media has failed to endear him to a nation used to the likeable, if less talented, Tim Henman. Some even went as far as assuming his lack of emotion on-court translated to indifference when it came to the Wimbledon title. How wrong they were…
Yesterday’s four-set defeat to Roger Federer may have deprived Murray of the All England Club crown, but it certainly won him a legion of new fans. Millions of viewers watched him break down to the overwhelming applause from the crowd before composing himself to announce, "I’m going to try this and it’s not going to be easy…"
He was the gracious loser, congratulating Federer who’s "not bad for a 30-year-old" before moving on to his family and support team and lastly – and this is the really weepy bit – "you guys":
"Everybody always talks about the pressure of playing at Wimbledon – how tough it is. But it's not the people watching – they make it so much easier to play. The support’s been incredible so thank you."
As runner-up speeches go, it has to be one of the greats. The raw emotion that overcame the man from Dunblane ended years of failing to fully connect with his fans. He may have fallen at the last hurdle, but Murray has become a British hero and shown the cynics that just because someone isn't showing emotion on court, doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it.
In case you missed it, here’s that speech: