Andy Murray responds to Novak Djokovic suggestion that he could return to play Wimbledon next year

Emotional Centre Court ceremony provides fitting farewell for British tennis legend

Andy Murray has insisted there will be no retirement U-turn following his emotional farewell ceremony at Wimbledon.

The two-time former singles champion was honoured on Centre Court on Thursday evening in a celebration of his career after he and brother Jamie lost in the first round of the men’s doubles.

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Novak Djokovic has not been alone in floating the idea that Murray could yet change his mind and be back at Wimbledon next year, but the former world number one insists this is it.

Andy Murray in conversation with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)Andy Murray in conversation with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Andy Murray in conversation with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“I’m ready to finish playing,” he said. “I don’t want that to be the case. I would love to play forever. But, even though it was a doubles match, where physically it’s obviously not as demanding, it’s still really hard for me.

“I’m ready to finish playing because I can’t play to the level that I would want to anymore. That’s something that I guess is a bit out of my control. There’s nothing about the sport that I hate. I like the travelling. I love the competition, practising, trying to get better, all those things. I know that it’s time now. I’m ready for that.”

Murray was in tears after watching a montage of his most memorable moments, with tributes from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams, before talking through his memories with Sue Barker. Djokovic was among the present and former players gathered on Centre Court for the occasion, while Murray’s two eldest daughters were courtside along with his wife, mum, dad and team.

Reflecting on the occasion, the 37-year-old said: “It was really nice. When the video was playing, my head was spinning a lot. I know I’m about to have to speak. It’s difficult in those moments because there’s a lot of people you want to thank and address. It was pretty emotional as well.

“Watching the video was nice but hard as well for me because it’s coming to the end of something that you’ve absolutely loved doing for such a long time.

“But it was obviously really nice that a lot of the players stayed. I have very close, good relationships with the British guys that were there but there’s also a number of players there on that court that I have enormous respect for, some of the greatest players in the history of the game.

“It feels like an ending to me. Whether I deserve it or not, I don’t know. But they did a really, really good job.”

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Murray had considered playing singles just over a week after back surgery before deciding on Tuesday morning that it would not be a good idea. The extent to which he was physically hampered was apparent from the start of Thursday’s match, which the Murrays lost 7-6 (6) 6-4 to Australian duo Rinky Hijikata and John Peers.

He was back on the practice schedule at the All England Club on Friday to prepare for his mixed doubles opener alongside Emma Raducanu, which could take place on Saturday. Murray is entered into singles as well as doubles at the Olympics in Paris later this month, which is set to be the final tournament of his career, although whether he plays singles depends on how he continues to recover from recent back surgery.

“There’s no question that, even with the physical issues around the hip, I was still able to compete at the highest level,” he said. “Not as consistently as I would have liked, certainly not having the results I would have wanted.

“I could definitely still win matches here on the grass once I’m recovered from the back injury. But I don’t want to do that now. I know I could do it, but I have no plans to play singles again.

“Because I knew definitively that that was going to be the last time I’m playing here, the last week and everything has been really emotional for me. Every time I was on my own, I find myself getting a bit emotional and thinking about it.

“Obviously I’ll try and enjoy the mixed doubles. It should be fun. Then I’ve got a family holiday planned after this, then the Olympics. That’s it.”

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