Andy Murray’s wife is in his corner cheering on every winner and when he gazes frustratedly up to the stands after points are lost she knows how to lift her man – but the Wimbledon champion has revealed the tennis she really loves to watch and it’s not the kind he plays.
Kim likes the little guys and girls – players who at first sight aren’t as physically strong as their opponents but who reveal themselves to be pocket battleships, capable of bringing down the rival across the net who towers over them.
A debate opened up over different styles after Murray’s fourth-round victory over France’s Benoit Paire and the Scot was happy to contribute to it and just as happy to concede he wasn’t to everyone’s taste.
“There will be some people in this country who don’t like watching me, who don’t like my personality or my style of play, whatever it is,” he said. “Not everyone who watches tennis loves watching [Roger] Federer. He’s got a massive amount of fans obviously but some people prefer watching Rafa [Nadal].
“That’s why I think it’s important for the sport and healthier for it if there are [lots of different] players – men, women, left-handers, right-handers, tall players. It makes it more fun because everyone likes different things.
“Like my wife for example. She likes watching players who are really small.” Did Kim prefer smaller players to her 6ft 2in husband? “I don’t know about that! She just likes watching players who are small and aren’t as strong. She likes watching Gilles Simon. She likes watching Dominika Cibulkova. Everyone likes different things and it’s good to have players to choose from.”
Maybe around the country there isn’t universal love for the Murray style but everyone is still following his every shot. He is the No 1 British sporting obsession, according to today’s quarter-final opponent Sam Querrey. “It seems like he’s the guy over here. If a bee stings him, everybody is going to know about it,” said the American.
Querrey insisted the level of scrutiny Murray plays under is far greater than that experienced by any sportsman in the US. “It’s like nothing that we have in the States. I’m sure a couple of the football players are massive names, too, but he is arguably the biggest athlete over here. In the US we have ten athletes that are kind of on the same level. Whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, tennis [in the States], a lot of people watch, but it’s not like 100 per cent of America watches even the Super Bowl. It feels like everyone in this country watches Wimbledon with Andy Murray.”
Murray also took time yesterday to talk about his parents, their unstinting support for him in his career and that of big brother Jamie, but also how the important thing wasn’t seeing their boys win tournaments, rather their happiness.
He was asked if he’d read his mother’s book, Judy having just published her autobiography. “I haven’t [yet] but I’ve seen little bits and pieces because she let me know about all of the stuff that was about me or mentioned me.” he said.
“She wanted to run it by me before the book was published. I didn’t have to put a red line through anything but there were a few things we chatted about because sometimes wording is important.
“It’s good that she’s telling her story because not everyone is aware of what parents have to do to give their kids the best chance to make it in what they want to do. Obviously if you go through school on a more conventional pathway it’s a bit easier but when you have two kids into tennis, who want to go and train abroad and everything, it’s not easy and it costs a lot of money. My mum and dad made lots of sacrifices for both of us and obviously we couldn’t have done what we are doing without them.”
But Murray wasn’t sure his success could be viewed as him repaying them because that hadn’t been uppermost in his parents’ aspirations for the brothers. “My mum and dad are obviously really pleased that me and Jamie have done really well for ourselves at tennis but they would have been just as happy if we had chosen another route. As a parent you just want your kids to be happy – that’s the most important thing.
“If I made the quarter-finals of Wimbledon but I was unhappy then my mum and dad would rather I lost in the first round and enjoyed my life. Being happy is ultimately the most important thing. I love tennis and I want to do well but I know they just want me and Jamie to be happy.”
Murray has reached the last eight of this Wimbledon and he described his current mental state as “calm”. He added: “I’m more comfortable on a grass court than I am on the clay. I was struggling going into the French Open [when] there were a lot of doubts about my game. But that tournament ended up being really important for me [and] I knew coming in here that I was actually hitting the ball pretty well. I’d been struggling a lot with my movement and that’s a huge part of my game. If that’s not going well it’s going to affect me a lot. But I’m always a little bit calmer going into Wimbledon just because I love the conditions and I love playing on [Centre Court].”
Murray has a good record against Querrey but confessed he is far from an ideal opponent – and standing 6ft 5in he probably isn’t a favourite of Kim either. “He has a tough style to play against,” said Murray. “He serves big, he goes for his shots. He’s had some great results here in the past: a big win against Novak [Djokovic] last year and he’s beaten [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga here, too. He’s a great grass court player but I’ve had good success against him in the past and hopefully I’ll take that into this match.”