Wimbledon 2013: Is Andy Murray the World's Most Likable Tennis Player?
Admit it: you were pretty jazzed for Andy Murray as he hoisted Wimbledon's silver gilt cup Sunday. In edging past Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, Murray notched his second Grand Slam title, and perhaps more importantly, ended a 77-year British drought at the lawn. Murray's victory speech was filled with gratitude and emotion, and the world's second-ranked singles player continues to play humbly despite achieving international fame.
You gotta love the guy.
In a sport that purveys prima donnas and massive egos, Murray's ascent is all the more enjoyable. Tennis fans have a tendency to latch on to one or two favorite players and subsequently develop intense feelings toward the remaining field, but it's hard to see anyone hating Murray Sunday. With another Slam under his belt, Andy Murray has become the world's most likable tennis player.
It starts at the humility, of course. Fans will remember Murray's tear-laden reaction to losing to Roger Federer in last year's Wimbledon final, as they will remember the outpour of optimism that came after Murray won his first title at the U.S. Open a few months later. Everyone from John McEnroe to Pete Sampras to Rafael Nadal has had some flair in their on-court image, but Murray appears to be nothing but a sportsman.
That's not to say Murray doesn't have rivals. In fact, Murray's rivalries feed his benevolent public persona. He knocked off Djokovic Sunday, a long-time foe who's known to be one of tennis' harshest tempers and explicit mouths. As the world no. 2 to Djokovic's no. 1, Murray gets to foil Djokovic, which is a breath of fresh air for fans sick of stuff like this.
Murray will lose the underdog persona as he continues to crank out Grand Slams, but his style of play will remain the same. His arsenal of returns, lobs, paced shots, and back-and-forth counters make him one of the game's smartest finesse players in a sport that's not all about machismo and brute strength. A tactician as brilliant as Murray is immensely enjoyable to watch.
Murray reps a country in dire need of a new star, but not just on the court. He's a founder of Malaria No More UK, and has an extensive portfolio of charitable work in England. A sport dominated by national identities makes Murray look all the better.
He's overcome a bipartite patella, stays loyal to longtime girlfriend Kim Sears, and appears to be more palatable for American fans unaccustomed to seeing tennis stars don the same ego and celebrity as football and basketball players. Falling to his knees after Sunday's win, it's difficult not to get swept up in his accomplishment. At 26 years old and with plenty of momentum surging his way, Murray figures to be one of your favorites for a long while.
Watch Murray win Wimbledon here: