Andy Murray’s Wimbledon farewell tour begins with a loss in doubles with his brother

LONDON, July 5: There were tears from Andy Murray. Standing ovations from the Centre Court crowd. A video tribute replete with messages from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams.

And, yes, a doubles match Murray played alongside his brother on Thursday, all part of the first stop on the two-time Wimbledon singles champion’s farewell tour at a tournament that meant so much to him.

The Murrays lost 7-6(6) 6-4 in the first round of men’s doubles against Rinky Hijikata and John Peers – but the result was, truly, beside the point on this evening.

“The match itself, it was tough, physically. It was hard for me. … I was fortunate I was even able to get on the court to play,” said Murray, who had surgery to remove a cyst from his spine less than two weeks ago, forcing him to withdraw from singles.

“It was pretty emotional,” Murray said about the postmatch tribute.

“Watching the video was nice, but hard as well, for me. Because you know it’s coming to the end of something that you absolutely loved doing for such a long time. So that was difficult.”

It was the first time a men’s doubles first-round match was played in the event’s main stadium in nearly 30 years, a fitting way for him to begin to say goodbye – and for his many fans to offer their thanks and well wishes, too.

Murray, a 37-year-old from Scotland, has said he will head into retirement after playing at the All England Club, where he is also entered in mixed doubles with 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu, and the Paris Olympics, which begin later this month.

“I’m ready to finish playing,” Murray said, “because I can’t play to the level I want to anymore.”

Murray occasionally fidgeted with his back and looked a tad uncomfortable while playing, but he also let out a celebratory scream after hitting a forehand return winner to go up a break at 2-0 in the second set, the type of shot that helped him reach No. 1 in the rankings.

This was the first time the Murray siblings had played together at the All England Club. They bumped fists before the match began; they slapped palms between points. Their mother, Judy, who taught both boys tennis, was in a guest box, sitting with Andy’s wife, Kim, and two of the couple’s four children.

“It was a fun experience for me to be out there and play with him,” Jamie said.

“It was sort of strange knowing what the background was.”

Jamie’s younger brother became a superstar in these parts by winning Wimbledon in 2013, making him the first British man to triumph in singles at the All England Club in 77 years. He won the title again in 2016.

His other Grand Slam trophy came at the US Open in 2012, the same year he won his first singles gold medal at the London Olympics at Centre Court – “One of my favourite days I’ve ever had, certainly as an athlete,” he said on Thursday – and the next, at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, made him the only player with two in a row.

There were some of his usual mannerisms, whether it was tugging on the brim of his white hat or leaning over to pull on the tongues of his shoes or clenching a fist while looking up at the stands. There wasn’t as much of the fire and brimstone he was famous for, the cursing and muttering directed at his team or, just as frequently, himself.

“Sometimes,” Djokovic said during the four-minute video, “it looked like you against the world.”

Then it was Federer’s turn to say: “But you were never alone. Because while you you carried your own dreams, you also carried theirs,” referring to Murray’s many fans.

After the ceremony, Murray was greeted by several current and former players, including Djokovic, Iga Swiatek, Lleyton Hewitt, Holger Rune, Cam Norrie, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe.

And then Murray walked over to his brother, and they hugged. (AP)

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