Andy Murray is a tennis legend. Multiple Grand Slam titles – including two coveted Wimbledon wins – have secured his place in the tennis Hall of Fame. He’s a three-time winner of BBC Sports Personality of the Year, feminist and widely respected for his charity work. He’s also British, when he wins.
The news that he may be retiring is a blow. Indeed, there are online articles “paying tribute” to him, as if it is his death and not a dodgy hip that has put paid to his career. The world of tennis is in mourning.
But while this is a sad moment for tennis, it is also a poignant lesson in the power of emotional honesty.
Last year, ‘Toxic’ was one of the Oxford English Dictionary’s words of the year, largely for its use before masculinity. The increased momentum of the #MeToo movement saw the concept widely talked about, no clearer than by Australian author Tim Winton who spoke of its power to “burden”, “narrow” and “distort” men into suppressing their emotions.
Rarely do sportsmen show their feelings. You only have to watch an interview with a football player after a game – win or lose – to realise this.
But the video of Murray’s press conference is the opposite and proves difficult to watch. He becomes overwhelmed by his emotions, trying to hide behind his baseball cap before eventually surrendering to his tears.
Although undoubtedly far from how he had intended to deliver the news, Murray has taken an important step in normalising emotional expression. Hopefully younger generations watching the footage will sit up and take note – it’s okay to talk honestly, freely and, crucially, to tell others how you feel.
I, for one, have never felt prouder of a British sportsperson.
Game, set and match to Andy Murray.
Hollie Christian-Brookes is an account executive at Camargue