Those were all painful losses, as were the two that followed, amounting to five runner-ups in all in Melbourne. Murray was unable to suppress his disappointment after his most recent run to the final in 2016, as his then-pregnant wife, Kim, anxiously watched back at home in England. “You’ve been a legend the last two weeks, thank you so much for all your support,” Murray said during the trophy presentation, his eyes welling up as he addressed her. “And I’ll be on the next flight home.”
That, too, was quintessential Murray. He seemed part caveman, with that wild hair. It often looked like he had slept in his tennis clothes. Murray shuffled along like a comic strip character in those ankle braces that made it look like he was wearing ski boots. But he was no slob in his heart. He was attuned to the needs of those close to him and especially cognizant of the value and role of the women in his life. And he knew how overlooked women were in the game in general and what they could bring to it if given the opportunity. He acted on that knowledge, hiring Amelie Mauresmo as his coach for a spell.
Murray’s greatest single tournament achievement was his triumph at Wimbledon in 2013, when he became the first British male champion since Fred Perry in 1936.
It’s hard to overstate the amount of pressure the British public’s overt longing for a men’s champion put on its native players at Wimbledon over the decades, but Murray handled it with astonishing aplomb. After he won, he admitted, “It’s hard. It’s really hard. You know, for the last four or five years, it’s been very, very tough, very stressful, a lot of pressure. The few days before the tournament, really difficult. Because it’s just kind of everywhere you go.”
All that stress. All that pain. Tough. Hard. The story of Murray’s life — because he was born in an impossible era — meant he had an uphill fight for his entire career, and he never stopped pushing. But his hip gave out before his heart.