Andy Murray acted as the flag bearer for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympics last Friday, just weeks after picking up his second Wimbledon men’s singles title. The only British man to have won a Grand Slam title in the Open Era, he is currently the second highest-ranking male player in the world.
As part of our ‘Sporting Heroes’ series, we’re taking a look at how this talented Scottish player rose through the ranks to win a host of coveted tennis trophies and awards.
Andy Murray’s Early Life and First Tennis Titles
Born on 15 May 1987, in Glasgow, Andy Murray grew up in the Scottish town of Dunblane. He began playing tennis aged just three, with his mother, Judy, a former player herself, teaching him and his brother, Jamie, how to play.
In 1999, Andy claimed his first title, winning the Boys 12 and Under category at the Junior Orange Bowl tournament in Florida. The following year, he made his debut on the ATP Challenger Series and ITF Futures Tournament circuit. In 2003, he won his first senior title, triumphing at the Glasgow Futures tournament.
The Road to Becoming British Number One
In 2004, Murray was forced to take six months off, due to a knee injury. It transpired that he had been born with a bipartite patella (meaning that his knee is made up of two bones rather than one). He finished off the year in style, however, by winning Futures tournaments in Spain and Italy, claiming the Junior US Open title, and being voted the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
The following year, Murray became the youngest ever Brit to compete in the Davis Cup competition. He also turned professional and became the first Scottish Player in tennis’s Open Era to make it as far as the third round of the Wimbledon men’s singles competition. He reached the final of the ATP Thailand Open tournament that year too, and he was also the Scottish team’s captain in the Aberdeen Cup competition.
On 27 February 2006, Murray overtook Tim Henman in the rankings to become the British number one for the first time. He also won his first ATP tournament, the SAP Open, in November 2006.
Grand Slam Wins and Olympic Triumphs
By April 2007, Murray had made it into the top ten in terms of world rankings and he rose as far as number 8 that year, before dropping down the ranks again. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open the following year, but crashed out of the Beijing Olympics in the first round.
In 2009, Murray became the first British man to win the Queen’s Club Championships since 1938. He has won the trophy a further three times since then (in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016). He also picked up more Masters trophies during the course of the next few years.
In 2012, Ivan Lendl took over as Murray’s coach. Andy made it into the Wimbledon final, eventually losing to Roger Federer. At the London 2012 Olympics, he took his revenge on the Swiss player by beating him in the final to claim the gold medal for Britain. He and Laura Robson also picked up the silver medal in the mixed doubles competition.
Murray won the US Open that year too, making him the first British man to hold a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry, back in 1936. In 2013, Murray made history again when he became the Wimbledon men’s singles champion, the first British player to do so in 77 years.
The next two years were tougher for Murray, as he underwent back surgery and had a number of very public splits with coaches. He racked up a number of major tournament wins, but further Grand Slam titles seemed illusive.
In 2015, however, he was part of the team that won the Davis Cup for Britain, and in 2016, Ivan Lendl became his coach once more. After winning his fifth Queen’s Club Championships, Murray defeated Milos Raonic in the 2016 Wimbledon final to claim the prestigious title for the second time.
Murray is at the top of his game again at the moment and is currently in Rio, attempting to defend his Olympic title, so he could be picking up plenty more trophies in future too.
Is Andy Murray one of your sporting heroes? Did you watch any of his historic tournament wins? Share your memories in the comments section below.