Throughout July, BBC Scotland’s Sporting Nation series is reflecting on some of the greatest feats and personalities from Scottish sporting history. Here we look at Andy Murray, a former tennis world number one, multiple Grand Slam winner and two-time Olympic champion.
Andy Murray has grown up in the public eye and has carried a heavy burden of expectation since winning the Junior US Open in 2004.
In the intervening 16 years, he has gone from scruffy newcomer to a sporting hero, global icon and recipient of a knighthood… although he prefers not to be called ‘Sir Andy’.
Murray is not one to pat himself on the back or be seen to get above himself. But plenty of leading figures from the tennis world are happy to eulogise the man and his character on and off the court.
‘One of the greatest players of all time’
Murray’s achievement lies in breaking through to make his mark in the greatest era of men’s tennis.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have won 56 Grand Slam singles titles between them and sit at numbers one, two and three on the list for most major wins in the history of the men’s game.
Murray’s efforts in taking on these titans of the sport are remarkable. He has won three Grand Slams – claiming Wimbledon success in 2013 and 2016 after his breakthrough at the US Open in 2012. He has reached another eight Grand Slam finals, losing five to Djokovic and three to Federer.
He won Olympic singles gold in 2012 and 2016, led Great Britain to the Davis Cup in 2015 and finished 2016 as the world’s top-ranked player.
Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi: “Andy was the person that broke into the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic trio in their prime. He showed that he can play every bit up on their level.
“It is a rough generation to win a lot of Grand Slams. If Andy was in my generation he would have had probably three times the career. Those guys haven’t left much but Andy went in there and took it. I only have respect for him.”
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker: “Andy Murray is one of the greatest players of all time, and just a fine guy, a fine sportsman over the years.”
Federer: “He won everything he wanted to win. Anybody would substitute their career with his. He can be incredibly proud of everything he has achieved.”
Nadal: “I always had a good relationship with him. We shared moments in my academy. We shared courts in the most important stadiums in the world, competing for the most important things. That’s impossible to forget.”
Djokovic: “We have known each other since very, very early days. To see how he has raised his level is quite extraordinary.
“I think Roger, Rafa, Andy and myself have a very civil relationship, with a great respect for one another. One day, when we’ve all retired, I look forward to sitting down over a beer with them all, and their families, and remember what we went through.”
‘There’s nothing wrong with dreaming’
Murray has had to overcome many obstacles. Losing his first four Grand Slam finals had many questioning whether he had the mental strength to end Britain’s 76-year wait for a major winner.
The Scot’s success has also taken a serious physical toll, having to battle back from back surgery and more recently, hip problems that threatened to end his career.
Murray’s former coach Darren Cahill: “When you search for examples of ’emptied the bucket to be as good as they could be’ there should be a picture of Andy Murray. Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection.”
Andy’s brother and multiple Grand Slam doubles champion Jamie Murray: “From where he was, in so much pain every day, to where he is now is remarkable. He is a pretty amazing person.
“I don’t think many people could have gone through the whole journey to get to this point. There are not many athletes from any sport who would have had the fortitude to grind it out like he did.”
Judy Murray, Andy’s mum and former Fed Cup captain: “I’ve a picture in the house of Andy and Jamie, aged two and three, with their little racquets and Wimbledon T-shirts. They’re immersed in their sport, they’re tennis geeks, and now they’ve both got Wimbledon titles.
“It just goes to show there’s nothing wrong with dreaming, there’s nothing wrong with believing, and anything is possible.”
‘A champion on and off the court’
In recent years, Murray has emerged as a leading voice on gender equality in sport. His decision to bring in Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014 was seen as a watershed moment, the most high-profile male player to be coached by a female to date.
He has been consistently vocal in his support of his counterparts on the WTA Tour and has famously shut down reporters for overlooking the accomplishments of women players.
Serena Williams, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles: “I don’t think there’s a woman player – and there really shouldn’t be a female athlete – that is not totally supportive of Andy Murray. He has spoken up for women’s issues and women’s rights, especially in tennis, forever and he does it again.”
Billie Jean King, former world number one and a campaigner for gender equality, tweeted to Murray: “You are a champion on and off the court. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations.”
British number one Johanna Konta: “There have been so many examples of when he has stood up for us – not just for women’s tennis but women in general. Everybody has always been very appreciative of him and how he has stood up for the women’s side of the game.”
Murray recently offered his support to the top wheelchair tennis players, making representations on their behalf as US Open organisers reversed their original decision to cancel the wheelchair competitions at this year’s tournament.
Gordon Reid, two-time Grand Slam wheelchair champion: “Behind the scenes away from it all, he was doing a lot to have our backs and try to get the decision reversed. It’s brilliant for us to have somebody like that in our corner.”