- Andy Murray was written off too quickly by the media, Tim Henman told Business Insider.
- Murray was playing through so much pain he competed almost one-legged at the Wimbledon Championships two years ago.
- He had hip surgery in 2018 and fought back tears at the 2019 Australian Open, telling press that his future in the sport was ambiguous at best.
- But after another surgery in January, a positive prognosis in February, and a pain-free revelation in March, Murray has returned to tennis in the doubles bracket, winning the Queens Club Championships in his first tournament back last month.
- Henman marvelled at Murray’s “amazing” journey, and said his Wimbledon doubles partners – Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Serena Williams – will make for “another great story to look out for at Wimbledon.”
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Sports media is too quick to write off athletes like Andy Murray, according to tennis legend Tim Henman.
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion, has come a long way since competing almost one-legged as he attempted to play through pain in a quarterfinal match at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships.
Now, injury woes behind him, he returns to the grass in a far healthier place, teaming up with renowned doubles master Pierre-Hugues Herbert. It was even confirmed on Tuesday that Serena Williams will join him in the mixed doubles bracket.
HSBC ambassador Henman, himself a Wimbledon staple during a two-decade-long career, told Business Insider ahead of the tournament that “the media are too quick to write people off because in 99% of cases, the media don’t even know the actual problems that players are dealing with. It’s a private matter.”
Murray sparked plenty of columns when, fighting back tears, he addressed the press at the Australian Open in January, saying he’d like to play until Wimbledon but was unsure he’d physically be able to do so.
It was at Wimbledon in 2017 when he was in so much pain, managing to get to the quarterfinals pretty much on one leg … the proceeding 18 months were difficult to watch.
He said he needed hip surgery, despite having already had surgery for the recurring issue the previous year.
The game, for him, looked over.
Publications around the world looked at what would be next for Murray, with the BBC asking what he could be worth in retirement.
Murray, though, had stopped short of saying he was actually retired. He underwent hip resurfacing on January 29, and the professor who invented the procedure said in February that Murray’s chances of playing competitive tennis again should be “in the high 90%.” In March, Murray was pain-free.
Henman marvels at the Scotsman’s journey. “It’s been amazing when you reflect over a two year period,” he told Business Insider. “It was at Wimbledon in 2017 when he was in so much pain, managing to get to the quarterfinals pretty much on one leg, losing to Sam Querrey in five sets.
“The proceeding 18 months were difficult to watch because he was working so hard doing different types of rehabilitation on his hip, but it wasn’t working. Finally, when he took the decision to have the major operation … it’s been life changing.”
Henman played tennis with the Murray brothers last month and noticed a massive improvement in Andy Murray’s abilities.
“I hit with Andy Murray and Jamie at Wimbledon about two or three weeks ago and you could just see he was so much better physically, but also so much better mentally,” he said. “He was able to enjoy himself and there wasn’t the same pain. Obviously he’s still got a long way to go in terms of building up his strength, speed, and his movement, but at least there’s an opportunity ahead of him.”
Murray has only played in two doubles tournaments since his last singles appearance at the Australian Open – but he won one of them, the Queen’s Club Championships.
“Andy comes out first tournament back and wins at Queens … it’s pretty impressive having not played a doubles tournament for two years, but the challenge is going to be even greater getting back on the singles court,” Henman said. “He’s incredibly motivated though, and working hard. The next few events are important stepping stones for him.”
The doubles bracket at Wimbledon is the most pressing event, the one he will be most focused on, and he just happens to have partnered with two of the best in the business.
In the women’s bracket, he’ll pair with superstar Williams, while in the men’s he’s with Herbert, a 28-year-old Frenchman who has won doubles at each and every one of the four Grand Slams.
“He’s a recognised doubles player,” Henman said of Herbert’s ability. “He’s been up to number two, number one at some stage. Good player, with a big game for grass as well. He serves very well, volleys well.”
He added of Herbert: “There’s always a challenge gelling as a team when you’ve never played together and you’re going straight into a big tournament. That’s not easy, but they have the advantage of five sets at Wimbledon so that gives you more time to find your feet.”
Murray and Herbert get their doubles campaign started when they challenge Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert in the first round Thursday and Henman, for one, is “looking forward to seeing how they get on.”
“It’s another great story to look out for at Wimbledon,” he said.
HSBC are supporters of Wimbledon and the Ticket Resale Scheme.
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