Andy Murray’s decision to stay away from Sunday night’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year event was under-pinned by a fierce desire to achieve more history-making moments in his tennis career.
Murray admitted it had been a desperately hard decision for him not to travel back from his training base in Florida for the award show. He duly won the main award after polling almost 56 per cent of the total votes.
But far from easing down after completing his lifelong dream of winning the Wimbledon men’s singles title this year, the 26-year-old Scot now has his sights set firmly on establishing himself as the world’s best player.
Murray’s mother Judy, who was present in Leeds in his absence, said: “Andy’s goal is to win more grand slams and try to achieve that end-of-year world No 1 ranking.
“It was a very difficult decision for Andy to make but he is almost at the height of his pre-season training and it is a very important time to put in all the work you need to add to your game for the start of the new year. It was particularly difficult for Andy this year not just because of winning Wimbledon, but because of the fact he had back surgery nine weeks ago, which has obviously set him back in terms of his preparations.”
The magnitude of Murray’s victory – he polled well over 300,000 more votes than second-placed British and Irish Lions star Leigh Halfpenny – shattered the myth once and for all that for all his success he remains a polarising figure in British sport.
Speaking via a live video link-up with media following the ceremony, Murray put much of his surge in popularity down to the BBC documentary which aired shortly prior to his historic Wimbledon triumph.
Murray said: “I think the documentary probably helped. (My agent) Matt Gentry had been bugging me to do it for over a year and I wasn’t particularly keen because I’m quite shy and don’t like having loads of cameras around me.
“But he convinced me to do it and I quite enjoyed it in lots of ways and I think that probably helped.
“I think also after Wimbledon last year people saw how much it meant to me. I was obviously very emotional after that, and the support I got from Wimbledon this year was by far the best I’ve ever had.”
Murray confirmed he had given serious consideration to flying back from Florida in order to be present to receive an award he clearly coveted, joining the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Lennox Lewis and Virginia Wade.
“I would have loved to have come back because I want to be at home at Christmas as well, but unfortunately in order to do things the right way I have to make those sacrifices,” he added.
“The easy decision would have been to have come and I would have loved it.
“Believe me, I’d rather be there than here. But it’s the right decision for my career, for my back, and my preparations for the Australian Open.”