Image: LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages.
I was peacefully working my way through a bottle of Pimms yesterday afternoon, when a horrifying thought intruded on my enjoyment. What if the unthinkable happened and my newfound, if slightly vague, patriotism paid off? What if Andy Murray actually won Wimbledon?
Image: Clive Rose/Getty Images.
If you didn’t watch the Wimbledon final, you may think I would have to have been almost irretrievably blasted to be entertaining such fantastical notions, but at that point it really was plausible; while Federer was playing well within the level of excellence we’ve become used to, he was also making uncharacteristic errors and Murray appeared more than ready to take advantage.
As it was, the weight of Federer’s brilliance was too heavy for Murray to bear over four sets and he lifted the trophy for a seventh time. But I had a glimpse of a different kind future as Murray took the first set, and despite a reasonable level of drunkenness, it was unnerving.
We in the United Kingdom, and England in particular, have shaped our entire psyche around our sporting crapness. We’re comfortable with it. Imagine the damage to our collective sanity if one athlete was to eschew our traditional approach to major tournaments – criticising athletes for not having the killer instinct, the will or the attention span to win, the brief window of claiming that victory is definitely within our grasp when we unexpectedly don’t get knocked out in the first round, then the righteous proclamations that we were right in the first place when the inevitable happens – and win something.
What would we do? Once the thrill had worn off, what would we say? Although Andy Murray was plainly devastated by defeat yesterday, knowing the way we tend to deal with excitement (think of a puppy so overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of a unexpected car ride, it pees all over the back seat) perhaps not winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon is a blessing in disguise.
Initially it would be magnificent. We would all flex our flabby patriotism muscles for a few days, the press would hail Murray as a new sporting messiah, tell everyone who’ll listen that it won’t be long before he reaches and surpasses Le Fed’s seven Wimbledon titles and probably knight him. Then, totally understandably, given the weight of expectation placed upon him, he would lose a match and we’d all be forced to crush him because he let us down.
Andy Murray was a worthy competitor yesterday against a man who has been tagged by many as the greatest tennis player who has ever lived. He thinks that Murray will win a Grand Slam some day. Let’s hope it’s in a far away place, giving him time to get used to the honour.
That way, he might stand a chance of winning a second.