Monday, 9 July 2012

Andy Murray - Champion, No - Hero, Yes

Ok, so this isn't art, and it's just a tennis match, but I'm going to give Mr Murray a mention anyway.

When I asked my son just before the match started who he was cheering for in the Wimbledon Men's Final, he said Roger Federer.  Very surprised, I asked why, and he said well, Roger's a nice guy and a great player, and I don't want Andy to win and be taken over by all the media hype about winning in Jubilee year, and Olympic year, and making Britain proud and so on, it wasn't fair.  I thought it a pretty strange thing to say.

However, before the match there was a huge build-up on the BBC, interviewing the great and good in the crowd, showing little films where tennis greats of the past wished Murray good luck (although I'm doubtful that he would see them, so I'm not quite sure what the point of them was or who they were aimed at), and generally banging on and on about History About to Be Made.  It was pretty uncomfortable to watch.  It was indeed as if Murray was being expected to make everything fall neatly into place in the Great British 2012 storyline.

Well, you all know the result.  Real life isn't neat like that.

It was a great effort.  A heroic effort.  But Federer is one of the true all-time greats, and when the roof went over due to rain, he stepped up a gear with the serves and off he went.  He was just the better player. 

 Picture: BBC

So far, so disappointing.  A nation audibly deflated (well, those who weren't watching the Formula 1 on the other channel).  

And so the presentation ceremony swung into action.  But then a strange thing happened.

Andy, not known for his emotion, charisma or eloquence in interviews - he likes to play things very close to his chest and keep it all reigned in to the point of brusqueness -  was asked to take the mike and say a few words.  He struggled to gain his composure. He was crying. A nation held its breath and leant forward on the sofa (well, those who weren't watching the Tour de France on the different other channel).

 Picture: BBC

In all the manufactured drama, here was suddenly a real flood of genuine emotion.  This was something unscripted, something completely unexpected.  The seconds ticked by as he struggled to compose himself.   "I'm getting closer" he said, his voice breaking and vulnerable.  He gret.  And suddenly we were all greeting.  Buckets, without really knowing why.  In all the scenarios of how things were going to turn out, this outpouring wasn't one of them.

Picture: EPA

And suddenly the most important thing wasn't to win to order, to fit a media storyline - the most important thing was to have done your very best, and to lose magnificently.

Yes, Federer may have won 7 times and be truly great.  But sometimes, losing's ok too.  And my 12 year old is right - sometimes you need to win on your own terms, in your own time.

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