Andy Murray is hoping for one last Wimbledon send-off this summer, but John Nicholson can think of very few worse ideas in the history of sport.
An inconvenient truth: Andy Murray spent a lot of his career being bitterly disparaged by a good chunk of the British public, largely, it would seem, because he is Scottish and a tennis player, rather than a raconteur.
With that in mind, some of the public’s emotional gushing this week has been a little bit galling at times. It is the opposite end of the emotional spectrum that dominated the man’s career for many years.
Remember, Murray was, in many eyes, always destined to be a nearly man. Good, but when push came to shove, not quite good enough; a British bottler. He was a mumbler, a scruff, a man who lacked the strength of mind to win the big stuff. It seems amazing to think that now, but it most certainly was the case.
As it turned out, he was one of the best players in the world who, in almost any other era, would’ve been number one for years. Of course, he just happened to be playing at a time when at least three other geniuses were plying their trade on the courts.
But as he began to win things, miraculously he got more and more fans. The glory hunter is one of sports least loved punters, but one of the most common. He needed your support when he was losing, not after he was winning.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Isn’t it funny how the most popular football clubs are always the most successful? What a coincidence. Yeah, so everyone loves Andy now, even those, it would seem, who were always on his case when he hadn’t won a major.
While he seems keen, if possible, to play one last Wimbledon, and it’s easy to see why he’d want to bow out there, is it really a good idea? There are two good reasons why it might well not be.
Firstly, he risks getting a proper beating in the first round. By then he’ll not have played competitive tennis for the best part of half a year. You can’t just jump back on centre court and play like you’ve never been away.
To see him being thrashed, winning only a handful of games would be painful for all and certainly not a glorious send off. Indeed, even if he gets through an early round or two, the chances he’s going to make any further progress seem small.
He won’t be anywhere near even half his best, so the likelihood he’ll be well beaten is high. Is that what he or his fans want? It isn’t, is it?
The other reason not to do this is it will likely turn into a horrible mawkish affair, at least if last week was anything to go by; the sort of self-indulgent weep fest which seems to pass for a kind of leisure activity for some.
He’ll be blubbing into a microphone and the crowd blubbing into their Pimms in an orgy of emotional self indulgence. He should be remembered for having the guts and bravery of a lion in battle.
That’s his tennis legacy and it doesn’t sit well with being cooed over like a kitten with a broken paw, which is what it started to feel like last week, so lord knows how much it’ll be ratcheted up by the summer.
His time is done. He’s been really successful and coined himself an almost unbelievable amount of money, estimated to be around £83 million. Make an appearance if you wish. Wave to the crowd. But don’t use one of the biggest tournaments in the game as a platform for your goodbyes when you’re not able to compete properly.
By all means have some sort of event or TV show where you can thank your public, if you must, but to do so after you’ve had your ass whupped by someone who, a couple of years ago, you’d have beaten easily would be embarrassing and and undignified in the most unfitting of ways.
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