Sir Andy Murray has revealed he plans to retire from tennis after this year’s Wimbledon - but admits he may be forced to quit the sport even earlier.
In a tearful press conference at the Australian Open this morning, the Scot explained why he plans to call time on his career.
“I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,” he told the assembled media. “I want to get to Wimbledon and stop but I’m not certain I can do that.
The 31-year-old, who has been battling a long-term hip injury, still intends to play his Australian Open first-round match against Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week.
But he candidly admitted this could be his last tournament as a professional player.
“I’m not feeling good, I’ve been struggling for a long time,” he added.
“I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now. I’ve pretty much done everything I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.
“I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but I’m still in a lot of pain. I can still play to a level, but not a level I have played at.”
The three-time Grand Slam winner had surgery on his right hip last January and has played 14 matches since returning to the sport last June.
“The pain is too much really,” he said. “I need to have an end point because I’m playing with no idea of when the pain will stop.
“I’d like to play until Wimbledon - that’s where I’d like to stop playing - but I’m not certain I’m able to do that.
“I have the option of another operation which a little bit more severe - and involves having my hip resurfaced - which would allow me to have a better quality of life and be free of pain.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering now. Some athletes have had it and gone back to competing but there’s no guarantee of that. If I had it, it would be to have a better quality of life.”
His announcement prompted a wave of support from the world of tennis. Billie Jean King, who won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, tweeted: “You are a champion on and off the court. So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations.”
Murray, originally from Dunblane, has become one of the highest profile sports players to hail from Scotland. His victory at the 2012 US Open made him the first British player since 1977, and the first British man since 1936, to win a Grand Slam singles tournament.
He ended the UK’s long wait for a homegrown winner of Wimbledon when he won the 2013 Men’s Singles final against Novak Djokovic, who he has faced in no less than seven Grand Slam finals.
Murray won on Centre Court again in 2016 when he saw off Milos Raonic to become the first British male player since Fred Perry in the 1930s to win multiple Wimbledon titles.
Last year the Scot finished second to England’s World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore in a poll conducted by the Radio Times to find the greatest sports personality of all time.
The poll, which received over 11,000 votes, was held to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award.
Murray is the only sportsperson to lift the coveted sports personality trophy on three occasions.