As Sue Barker introduced the 2013 Wimbledon gentlemen’s champion, she said: “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve waited 77 years for this...” Oh, Sue, how we have waited. Waited and hoped and prayed and then waited some more.
And, now, at last Andy Murray has done it. He has won Wimbledon. We will say that again: Andy Murray has won Wimbledon. Cue a nation going wild.
Still, those 77 years seemed to fly by in comparison to the three hours and nine minutes it took Murray to beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, three hours and nine minutes of aggression, passion and total focus on the business of winning. And three hours and nine minutes in which most of Britain could barely breathe. Could he do it? Will he do it? Dare we watch? Dare we take out eyes off him?
But if that seemed like a long time, the last game took an eternity. Three Championship points came and went. Three break points had to be staved off as Djokovic threw everything but the kitchen sink at him. And then, on the fourth Championship point, Djokovic dumped a backhand in the net. At last the title was Murray’s and at last Britain had their champion. “Imagine playing it!” Murray said to Sue as she conducted her usual, hard-hitting on-court interview.
Before anyone gets upset, Sue does an excellent job of compering the show and is an extremely nice person – it is just that every time she talks to Murray, she makes him cry. Remember the aftermath of last year’s final? And she had him choked up after he won the Queen’s Club title, too. Clearly, she makes Jeremy Paxman look like a wimp. This time, though, history was being made: not only did Murray end Britain’s title drought in SW19, he also stayed dry-eyed as he chatted to his interrogator.
There had been tears, though. When the final point was done, Murray dropped his racket and his cap on the baseline and turned to the crowd. Bizarrely, his eyes fell upon the press box first, that pen in which the motley crew of middle-aged hacks who follow his every move are corralled, and he roared in celebration in their general direction. He also high-fived the spectators sitting at the courtside and shook hands with anyone who was within touching distance – last year he had sobbed his heart out as he tried to explain what the crowd’s support meant to him and now he shared his joy and relief with them.
And then, finally, it hit him. Sinking to his knees on the Centre Court grass, the tears fell. He simply could not believe what he had just done and it was all a bit too much.
Sitting in his chair as the presentation ceremony was being organised, Murray asked Andrew Jarrett, the tournament referee, if he had time to go up to the players’ box and celebrate with his team. For a split second, Jarrett looked doubtful. He looked at his watch. And then he realised: this was the Wimbledon champion he was dealing with, this was Andy Murray – after all he had achieved on this Sunday afternoon, the Muzz could do whatever he wanted.
And Murray wanted to be with people who had helped him achieve a lifetime’s goal: Ivan Lendl, Dani Vallverdu, Kim Sears, Matt Little, Jez Green – the list goes on and on. The only person he forgot to see was his mum, Judy, but she called him back for a hug and a kiss. “I did forget her,” the new champion said sheepishly. “I heard her squealing behind me when I was trying to get down.”
Moments later, the Challenge Cup was in his grasp and he was crowned as the 2013 Wimbledon champion. Somewhere, Fred Perry was smiling: he could now rest in peace. Andy Murray had taken on his mantel and Britain, finally, had a new hero to call their own.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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