How to introduce Andy Murray, OBE?
Boring voice, at least he thinks so. No personality, some people think so. *Quite* good at tennis, a lot of people think so.
For a fairly long time, it was a struggle to understand Britain’s best tennis player. Seen to be a surly sort, one who blasted and berated himself on the court, he never seemed to smile off it, at least not for the cameras.
Why would he not let people in?
But one day in Shanghai, a cheerful Chinese presenter bit the bullet and asked him. “Why do you never smile?
Murray’s response said it all. “I’m just quite shy,” he said.
And that is Andy Murray. Behind the wins, the wealth, the global profile, he is a quiet, thoughtful and polite type. He opens doors for people. He takes time to consider his answers, and he will always be honest. He shies away from the superstar lifestyle and, while he enjoys some of the things that serious money can bring, he is not one to flash the cash for the sake of it. He bought a red Ferrari a few years ago, but decided it was a bit much, so it went back to the dealer.
He may own a sizeable chunk of Surrey real estate, but ask him why and it reveals far more about him. “It’s the one thing that I always wanted to have since I started earning money because we spend so much time in hotels. I just think that when you come home from a long trip - it’s nice just to go back to somewhere where it’s very quiet.”
Murray joked in fact, that there would be no point paparazzi following him about at home because he leads a boring life. Walks the dogs. Goes out to eat occasionally. That’s it.
All this talk of home life and humility is not to say the Wimbledon champion is a fusty dusty stick-in-the-mud, no matter how monotone he may sound in his interviews. It is well documented that he likes to have a laugh with his team, and recently, more relaxed now he's a Grand Slam title winner, he’s been having a laugh with the rest of us too.
“When it comes to the work, everyone’s very professional,” he said. “But when we’re away from the court and the training, we try to have as much fun as possible because tennis is a pretty stressful sport, so we try to keep it as light-hearted as possible.”
His sense of humour is the dry, precocious type, the sarcasm so biting, the self-deprecation so searing, the ribbing just so amusing that sometimes that you think, “did he really say that?!” and then start laughing. At least I do.
“Have you ever hit a shot blind-folded? If so, how did it go?” someone asked him in a recent Twitter Q&A. “I don’t know I couldn’t see,” was Murray’s response.
Or... “how close are you with Djokovic?” “Right now he’s in Dubai and I’m in Doha so around 450kms,” Murray replied.
“Has Kim ever done your portrait?” “Not yet, tough to paint something this ugly,” he remarked.
Not to ignore his tennis, of course. Without waxing overly lyrical, Murray is a fascinating watch on a tennis court, his successes (two Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold and silver medals, an OBE, 28 titles, a world No.2 ranking, £18m in prize money) the product of natural athletic ability and reflexes, combined with a furious amount of hard work, a canny mind, and, the most recent ingredient, belief. He has earned his place in history.
Not that he’s anywhere near done.
Seeing him back on a tennis court after the brave decision to have surgery last year, he looks just like Roger Federer does at the moment: delighted to be here.
So do we know exactly what makes Andy Murray tick? Of course not, and it’s quite clear that he doesn’t exactly want us to. But what we do know is that he likes his peace and quiet, he also likes a laugh, but most importantly as far as we’re concerned, he likes winning.
The rest doesn’t really matter.