Andy is a Great Brit even in defeat, but where are the others?

There are few sport that, over the years, £ for £ and player for player, have received more grants, bursaries and donations – official (from governmental-supported sources, like Sport England) or otherwise (private benefactors) – than tennis.

Yet Britain still hasn’t produced a Wimbledon’s men’s singles champion since 1938, Andy Murray being the latest Great Might Hope to see his and the nation’s dreams dashed on the hallowed lawns of SW19.

Following the shock defeats of Djokovic and Nadal and against an allegedly ageing Roger Federer – 30 being the tennis equivalent of a biblical three-score-and-ten for mere mortals – Murray was well hyped to become the first home-grown player to succeed Fred Perry.

At least the braveheart Scot – if he’d actually beaten Federer, the English would have elevated Andy to the status of British – had the grit and gumption to win the first set, could have won the second, before being steamrolled to oblivion by the elegant, artful and erudite Swiss warrior.

The natural order was restored, despite Federer’s unaccustomed litany of unforced errors – well into double figures for a player normally so reliable in his choice and execution of shots, you can count his miss-hits throughout a match on one hand.

BEATEN NOT BOWED: Murray leaves Wimbledon with a horde of new fans

Yet, there was one aspect of Murray’s appearance in Sunday’s final that was a winner: his tearful, lump-in-the-throat valediction at the end that produced a groundswell of appreciation around Centre Court and many a weeping eye in the massive tele-audience.

In that brief, plaintive speech he displayed raw emotions many doubted he possessed – genuine sadness replacing the dour, at times scowling countenance that has become his default expression, regret writ large on his face and in his quivering voice that he couldn’t reshape history.

It caused the Duchess of Cambridge to bite her bottom lip, her sister, Pippa – she of shapely posterior fame – to dab her eyes and even Victoria Beckham looked glummer than normal.

Though it fell short of Federer’s steel and panache, Murray’s tenacity and talent elevated him to a pantheon above all the other British nearly-was brigade of losers – e.g. the nice, but serial flop, Tim Henman, John Lloyd (who at least won three, mixed-doubles Grand Slams), way back to Roger Taylor (thrice a Wimbledon semi-finalist) and even Mike Sangster (a one-time Wimbledon semis loser).

And, apart from pocketing the £half-million runner-up’s purse, Murray won over many new hearts, who previously had admired the tennis player but disliked the apparent grouchiness of the man.

So far as British tennis is concerned, though – apart from a promising crop of teenage girls – it has much to answer for, the main question being: why, after so much investment in the game, have we only one male singles player good enough to grace a Wimbledon final?

2 thoughts on “Andy is a Great Brit even in defeat, but where are the others?

  1. David Hammond says:

    Perhaps the solution is to send our hordes of hopeful youngster to train in Spain. Alternatively, our coaches could arrange to borrow whatever manual the Spanish are presently using in order to understand how to create winners.

  2. Chris Ross says:

    Nice post. I think American tennis is asking that same question now. But it sucks for Great Britain that they still haven’t got a Wimbledon champion but Andy Murray doesn’t appear as though he’ll ever get one. He doesn’t have that extra gear like the other big 3 (Fed, Nadal, Djokovic) have shown that they have. When Federer stepped up his game in the final, Murray stayed the same, which wasn’t enough. And when Murray gets down on himself, it’s almost like game over. Body language was brutal yesterday. Heartfelt speech from Murray but you know he’s feeling the pressure and that has to be tough for him. Can’t say why GB hasn’t produced any other talent but it will come…eventually. Also, you think you could take a look at my blog post because I really would love to know what you have to say

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