TENNIS was much more fun when he was 12, Andy Murray has revealed.
But when he lifted the Under-12 Orange Bowl at that tender age, the British number one’s mother was sitting as far away as possible from his “nightmare” grandmother, he also disclosed.
The 25-year-old revealed the anecdote in a new book published to celebrate the Olympics.
Aspire, Inspire: Celebrating Tennis At The Olympics 2012 - features 36 leading tennis players posing with pictures of themselves as children and discussing their sporting heroes, as well as good luck messages from those heroes.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) launched the book to promote the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic tennis events, which start just weeks after the end of Wimbledon.
Murray’s picture is of him when he won the Under-12 Orange Bowl.
“My mum and gran were there and I remember when I was getting close to winning I looked up to see them and my mum was standing at one end and my gran the other,” he wrote.
“When I won, my gran was charging across the balcony to give my mum a hug. I asked them what they were doing separated and my mum was like, ‘god, your gran’s a nightmare!’.
“That’s what I think about when I see this picture. I can’t believe how young I look. Tennis was a lot more fun in those days.”
Murray, who will represent Great Britain in the Olympics, said being part of the Beijing Olympics was “one of the best moments I’ve had in my tennis career”.
“I had bad memories from the way that I played, but going to the opening ceremony, staying in the Olympic village, being around all the different countries, all the best athletes in the world, I mean it was amazing.”
He recalled seeing American basketball players Kobe Bryant and LeBron James tucking into McDonalds in the village’s food court.
“That was probably my funniest memory, seeing all of them at like 6ft 9(in), just sitting down having lunch,” he said.
“For me, by far, the Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world.
“To be involved in it was just great and I can’t wait to be involved again this year.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of pressure for sure and I think because it’s at Wimbledon it’s going to add more to it.”
Murray picked US track and field star Michael Johnson as his hero. Olympic record holder Johnson is considered one of the greatest long distance sprinters in the history of track and field.
In the book, Murray recalls meeting the athlete once, saying he was “so in awe of him I was just listening and keeping my mouth shut”.
“He was a really nice guy, really down to earth and very calm, and that’s why for me he was the one Olympian that stood out.”
In a letter to Murray, Johnson said he remembered meeting the Scot.
“I have kept an eye on your tennis career since then and I’m impressed with what you have achieved.
“Looking back my advice would be to do everything in your power to make the most of the opportunity to make history in front of the home crowd.”
In the book, Beijing bronze medallist Novak Djokovic nominated Italian skier Alberto Tomba as his hero, while Olympic champion Rafael Nadal recounts memories of the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.
Some players nominated other tennis stars as their heroes, including Olympic doubles champion and six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, who chose 1992 Barcelona champion Marc Rosset. Federer himself was picked by Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I believe this book shows the impact the Olympics has had on the lives of the current generation of tennis players, and how proud they are to represent their countries in the Olympic and Paralympic tennis events.
“The book also highlights the mutual respect between tennis players and athletes from other sports, with the Games providing a unique opportunity for all athletes to come together.”
The Olympic tennis event will be at the All England Club from July 28 to August 5, and the Paralympic event is at Eton Manor on September 1 to 8.
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