Andy Murray has announced that he plans to retire from tennis after Wimbledon 2019 – but due to his debilitating hip injury, he may be forced to quit the sport sooner, following the upcoming Australian Open.
In an emotional press conference at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday, the former world number one broke down in tears as he revealed that he’d “like to stop playing” after Wimbledon but that he’s “also not certain I’m able to do that”.
Murray, who is 31, has been suffering from a chronic hip condition for more than 18 months, and underwent surgery on his right hip in January 2018 before returning to compete in June.
His retirement announcement came during a press conference following a practice match against Novak Djokovic, in which he won just two games and was forced to stop playing before the match ended.
At the beginning of the press conference, the two-time Wimbledon winner was so emotional he had to leave the room to compose himself.
When he returned, he spoke about his battle to recover from his hip condition. “Obviously I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now,” he said.
“I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads. I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.”
Murray intends to play his first-round match against Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday but there is a chance it could be the last ever match of his career. “I’m going to play,” he said. “I can still play to a level. Not a level that I’m happy playing at – but it’s not just that. The pain is too much really and I don’t want to continue playing that way.
“During my training block I spoke to my team and told them I can’t keep doing this. I needed to have an end point because I was sort of playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop.
“I said to my team, ‘Look, I think I can get through this until Wimbledon.’ That’s where I’d like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
Murray then lowered his head to the desk, and when he was asked whether the Australian Open might be his last tournament, he replied: “Yes, I think there’s a chance of that for sure, because I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months.
“I have an option to have another operation, which is a little bit more severe than what I’ve had before in having my hip resurfaced, which will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now. Some athletes have had that and gone back to competing but there’s obviously no guarantees with that and the reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sport, it’s just for a better quality of life.”
Tennis players and close friends of Murray have been posting messages of support for him on social media.
Nick Kyrgios, an Australian player who said he feels like a “younger brother” to Murray, wrote that “it’s a sad day for the sport” and “everyone wants you to keep fighting and to keep being you”.
Andy, I know you take me for a joker most of the time, but at least hear me out on this one old friend. You will always…
Posted by Nick Kyrgios on Thursday, January 10, 2019
Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov said that “what you’ve done for the sport will live on forever”.
Current British number one Kyle Edmund has also paid his respects:
And legendary American player Billie Jean King described Murray as “a champion on and off the court” and praised his “voice for equality”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added that Murray is a “legend” and is “without doubt one of Scotland’s greatest ever sportsmen”.
The Australian Open will be available to watch live on Eurosport in the UK. Find out more about how to watch it here.