Andy Murray has accused British tennis of failing to capitalise on his success.
The Scot will head back to the UK from Melbourne today, leaving behind a wealth of goodwill, admiration and respect. But when he gets back to his homeland, he will find a nation that has done absolutely nothing to build on his success.
If his career ends tomorrow, there will be no Murray legacy.
“The thing that is concerning, from my understanding, is that participation [in tennis] is dropping,” he said as he weighed up his future following his first round defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open on Monday. “I know in Scotland that there has not been many indoor courts built in the last ten years. That seems madness. I don’t understand why that is. Those are the things that are important for the future.
“You need to get kids playing, you need to have the facilities that allow them to do that and I am not sure Britain has really capitalised on the last seven or eight years of success that we’ve had really, whether it be myself, my brother, Jo [Konta], Kyle [Edmund], Davis Cup, those sorts of things. I’m not sure how much we’ve done there.
“Maybe it’s something I should have given more thought to while I was playing but I never felt that was my job to do that. It is a little bit disappointing. I don’t understand how in the last eight to 10 years that participation is dropping, I don’t get it. If that is the case, it’s disappointing.”
Since 2016, ten new indoor courts have been built in Scotland but they are at private clubs and facilities – two at a David Lloyd Club in Glasgow, four at Gleneagles and four at St. Andrews. But these are not public courts, available to all. They will do little to encourage young kids from every background who want to grow up to be the next Murray.
It was as a result of this apathy that Judy Murray started her campaign to build a tennis centre in Dunblane. It has taken years of planning and patience but now she is edging ever closer to getting the project up and running, providing, of course, that she can get the funding in place.
“I’ve just been blown away by the tributes to Andy and the way that the nation has kind of got behind him,” she said. “It’s like, oh, surely you want something that says the Murray Tennis Centre, come and see, that tells the story of the boys or whatever. It would be great to say that here’s the legacy from what Andy and Jamie have achieved. Here’s the centre and here’s the café that’s done up like a Hard Rock Café and it’s got all their tennis rackets and their kit and their stories and their draw sheets and everything all around it. For me that would be the great thing.
“The worst thing would be that it doesn’t happen and we’ve got nothing to show for what we’ve done, because I am not seeing anyone else doing anything. There isn’t anything else in the pipeline and you have to prepare for a legacy.”