independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Andy Murray calls awarding of OBE 'a special day'

ANDY Murray has described receiving an OBE from Britain's Duke of Cambridge as a "special day" for himself and William.

The Wimbledon champion said he felt honoured to be awarded the OBE which capped a brilliant 2012 for the sportsman who won the US Open and Olympic tennis titles last year.

 

Murray went on to capture the hearts of the nation by winning the coveted championship at SW19 and cementing his place in sporting history.

 

The tennis star arrived well ahead of the investiture with girlfriend Kim Sears and his parents Willie and Judy, but before he appeared he tweeted about being held up by a drugs test.

 

William appeared to give a faultless performance as he presided over the ceremony, presenting awards, dubbing new knights and recognising the efforts of senior members of the armed forces.

 

Speaking after the event in Buckingham Palace's lavish ballroom, Murray said: "It's a great honour to be awarded something like this - it means a lot."

 

The sportsman paid tribute to other recipients: "Speaking to some of the people and the stuff they've done it's pretty incredible, it was nice to come along and receive it today.

 

"I've wanted to do it sooner but because of all the travel and stuff I've always been away on the dates that we've been given."

 

Once feared to be another nearly man of British tennis, Murray has fulfilled his talent in emphatic style in just over a year.

 

Overcoming his grumpy image, the player connected with the British public as he took gold at the London Olympics last summer, beating Roger Federer in straight sets.

 

A few weeks later he became the first British man to win a grand slam final in 76 years, defeating Novak Djokovic in the US Open.

 

His efforts earned him the OBE for services to tennis but more glory on the court was to follow.

 

The lack of a homegrown winner of the Wimbledon men's title had hung over British tennis for decades, but Murray beat all comers and triumphed in the final - against Djokovic again - to become the first British man in 77 years to win the singles title at Wimbledon.

 

Speaking about his brief chat with William during the presentation he said: "He just asked me about what it's been like after Wimbledon. I think he's a big sports fan, he was at the Olympics, he was seen everywhere and I've seen him a couple of times at Wimbledon, so today was nice and it was his first time as well, so a special, special day."

 

Murray is recovering from back surgery and said he had a rehab session planned for the afternoon but would probably stop off somewhere on the way home for a celebratory lunch.

 

Speaking about William he added: "I thought he seemed pretty relaxed. He seemed to give everyone a lot of time. It seemed like it went really quickly.

 

"We spoke for about a minute, he asked me about my back surgery and what it was like after Wimbledon and the pressures and stuff. It was a great thing to do at the end of the year, especially as it's his first one."

 

Murray revealed how he gently teased William about his handwriting: "After Wimbledon his wife had written a letter to say congratulations and she had amazing handwriting, and I had a letter from Prince William before and his handwriting was not good.

 

"And I just said, 'could you pass it on that her handwriting was fantastic and thank you very much for the letter'."

 

Speaking about his success Murray said: "My whole career has been a gradual progress, every year I've just made a little but of an improvement. I've never had any major setbacks in terms of a really bad year where my ranking dropped.

 

"For me personally winning a grand slam - whether it was the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon or the US Open - that was my goal.

 

"But obviously I didn't do it the first few times so the first one is obviously going to be special - just from a personal point of view.

 

"Wimbledon has a different significance on a broader scale, while the US Open felt more to me like a huge achievement for me personally, Wimbledon was more for the country."

 

Described as "unbelievably competitive" by those who know him, the 26-year-old is an enormous source of pride for his fans.

 

That legend has been forged by the challenges Murray has had to overcome throughout his life.

 

As the grandson of Roy Erskine, a professional footballer for Hibernian, Stirling Albion and Cowdenbeath, he could be expected to be blessed with sporting genes.

 

But DNA aside, Murray's road to sporting fame and fortune has been anything but smooth.

 

In 1996, he experienced the Dunblane massacre first hand when Thomas Hamilton killed 17 people, mostly children, before turning a gun on himself at Murray's primary school.

 

Just eight at the time, Murray has always been reluctant to talk about the ordeal but, in his autobiography, Hitting Back, he describes attending a youth group run by Hamilton and how his mother used to give him lifts in her car.

 

Then came the separation of his parents, Willie and Judy, when he was nine, which saw Murray and his brother Jamie go to live with their father.

 

And his relationship with his older brother has also been a driving force for Murray's ambition, as their sibling rivalry spilled onto the tennis court.

 

As a youngster, Jamie was rated the second best junior player in the world and beating him became Andy's greatest motivation.

 

When the younger brother's first victory came in an under-12s final, Andy taunted Jamie so much he received a rap on the hand so hard he lost a nail.

 

Murray's determination to become a champion saw him reject the usual route, which would have taken him through the Lawn Tennis Association.

 

Instead, in his mid-teens he moved to Barcelona where he trained on the clay courts of the Sanchez-Casal Academy.

 

Putting up with homesickness and the negative impact on his academic studies, he received the kind of top class tennis education which allowed him to win the junior US Open in 2004.

 

Surrounding himself with an entourage of physios and fitness coaches who helped him add brawn to his undoubted tennis brain, Murray soared all the way to the world's top four.

 

But just as he was climbing to the very top of his game, the up-and-coming star began to look like he might always fall at the last hurdle.

 

Reaching the final of the US Open in 2008 against Federer, he lost in straight sets.

 

He was outplayed in two finals at the Australian Open, first by Federer and then Djokovic.

 

And during last year's Wimbledon final, the first for a British man in 74 years, defeat at the hands of Federer left him in tears.

 

But he learnt from defeat and came back in 2013 to claim the title for himself.

 

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