ANDY Murray faced an unexpected delay as he prepared to head to Buckingham Palace to receive his OBE.
The Wimbledon champion was asked to undergo a surprise drugs test when inspectors from the International Tennis Federation arrived at his home yesterday morning, prompting him to tweet: “In the middle of a drug test hahaha I’m goin to be late!”
In the end, he made it with time to spare, arriving with girlfriend Kim Sears and his parents, Willie and Judy. He described it as a “special day” for himself and Prince William, who presided over his first investiture since stepping down from the RAF.
The OBE was in recognition of Murray’s sporting success during 2012, when he won Olympic gold and the US Open, and the Prime Minister has hinted that he may be knighted in the New Year honours after winning Wimbledon this summer.
After the event in Buckingham Palace’s lavish ballroom, the tennis star paid tribute to other recipients. “Speaking to some of the people and the stuff they’ve done, it’s pretty incredible,” he said.
“It was nice to come along and receive it today. I’ve wanted to do it sooner but because of all the travel and stuff, I’ve always been away on the dates that we’ve been given.”
Once feared to be another nearly man of British tennis, Murray has shown his talent in emphatic style. Overcoming his grumpy image, he connected with the British public as he took gold at the 2012 Olympics, beating Roger Federer in straight sets. A few weeks later, he became the first British man to win a Grand Slam final in 76 years, defeating Novak Djokovic in the US Open.
Speaking about his brief chat with Prince William, he said: “He just asked me about what it’s been like after Wimbledon. I think he’s a big sports fan – he was at the Olympics, he was seen everywhere and I’ve seen him a couple of times at Wimbledon. So today was nice and it was his first time as well, so a special, special day.”
Murray is recovering from back surgery and said he had a rehab session planned for the afternoon but would probably stop off somewhere on the way home for a celebratory lunch.
He added: “I thought he [William] seemed pretty relaxed. He seemed to give everyone a lot of time. It seemed like it went really quickly. We spoke for about a minute, he asked me about my back surgery and what it was like after Wimbledon and the pressures and stuff. It was a great thing to do at the end of the year, especially as it’s his first one.”
Murray revealed he gently teased William about his handwriting, saying: “After Wimbledon, his wife had written a letter to say congratulations and she had amazing handwriting, and I had a letter from Prince William before and his handwriting was not good. And I just said, ‘Could you pass it on that her handwriting was fantastic and thank you very much for the letter’.”
Talking about winning a Grand Slam, Murray said: “The first one is obviously going to be special – just from a personal point of view. While the US Open felt more to me like a huge achievement for me personally, Wimbledon was more for the country.”
Last night, Murray’s mother tweeted a picture of her son on the steps of Buckingham Palace and said: “Yes, I cried”. She also tweeted a picture of a royal carriage and wrote: “My carriage awaits. Beats the tube.”
Later, she retweeted a picture of Murray’s Border terrier, Maggie May, wearing the OBE medal, with the message “Order of the Border Empire”.