Murray leaves, but his legacy is forever

Welcome back! Well, it’s been an emotional day at Wimbledon, so let’s get into it!

Murray leaves, but his legacy is forever

Wimbledon gave Andy Murray the celebration he deserved. On Centre Court, after his loss in doubles with his brother Jamie, the greatest British player of all time received a beautiful video tribute. He also saw Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek, Martina Navratilova, and John McEnroe coming onto the court, among others. It wasn’t what Murray had hoped for as he couldn’t play in singles this year, but as he shared a long hug with his brother before leaving the court, it might have been even better. It was a family affair, just like his career started.

“It was hard physically for me. We did pretty well and had a few chances. I was fortunate I was even able to come on the court to play,” said Murray. “When the video played, my head was spinning a lot because I knew I was going to have to speak, and it’s not easy because I was pretty emotional. You know it’s coming to the end of something you loved doing for such a long time, so that’s difficult.” What is he the most proud of regarding his legacy? “Regardless of the highs and lows, I always came to work with the same work ethic and passion. I gave my best effort. That’s what I’m most proud of. I would love to play forever, but even today, for a doubles match, it was really hard for me. This year has been tough. I’m ready to finish playing because I can’t play at the level I want to anymore.”

Not a single dry eye was left on the Centre Court throughout that tribute and the interview that followed. This is the ultimate proof of the extraordinary mark that Andy Murray will leave. What a career and what a champion! Even today, he was sending that fist in the air, as always the competitor. After Roger Federer retired, seeing Muzz about to go too is another brutal reminder that the Big 4 era is now a long gone memory. A Golden Era whose last two members, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, might not be able to rep on Tour for as long as we’d hoped. In the collective denial, those four guys should stay forever.

“The first time I met Andy, I was 12,” remembered Djokovic during his press conference on Thursday. “We go very long back. We were never too close on the tour because it's difficult, you're rivals. We always had tremendous respect for each other and shared the stage for many years.” The Tennis Twins, as I’d love to call them. Born a week apart, playing tennis like in a mirror.

“Our trajectory to the professional tour and top of the men's game is pretty similar. I mean, not much was separating our careers. (…) He's definitely one of the three guys, other than Roger and Rafa, that really has impacted my career and my growth as a tennis player a lot. (…) So, if this is his last match, obviously, it's sad that he's not able to finish on his own terms in singles. Playing alongside his brother is probably even more emotional for everyone - for them, for the family, for this tournament, for the tennis in general. I do wish him all the best in his farewell. But I wouldn't be surprised if he decides to come back again. He's an incredible competitor. A resilience you can study and teach young athletes.”

Denis Shapovalov, who was out of the Tour for six months last year due to a knee injury, explained how much he was impressed with Murray as the British player was trying to play despite his back surgery, and with Djokovic, who just got back from a knee surgery. “It’s absolutely crazy! But that’s why they are who they are. It’s still insane. Huge credit to them for trying. On top of what they have already achieved. I understand if it’s a young guy who doesn’t really know if he’ll get another chance. But they’ve done it all, so to come back and try to play shows what it means to them. It’s inspiring.”

A sentiment overall shared by Gaël Monfils, who shared the best years of his career with Andy Murray and the other three Avengers. “They’re from another planet because being able to come back that fast is extraordinary. But I understand how much they want to play. It still shows they’re in a different league. These guys are legends and go way further than many people can understand. I think it’s time to stop trying to understand and just see that they’re out of this world.” They’re not called the Tennis Avengers for nothing.

Any chance I can step on the court is a win

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Bianca Andreescu has made quite the return to the competition, with a third round at Roland-Garros, a final in S-Hertogenbosch, and a third round, at least for now, at Wimbledon. The Canadian, who won the US Open in 2019, again proves how quickly she can return to a title-contender-worthy level. It’s not surprising for her now, as she has already recovered from too many injuries. But she has found some serenity through this recent journey.

“Everything that happened in the past has brought me to where I am as a person right now,” she told me after her first round. “I have many more tools under my belt. So, I feel like now I can navigate challenges more differently and in a more positive way. I take anything people see as a challenge or a failure as something positive because I know I will learn from it, and that’s the ultimate thing that’s been helping me.”

The biggest challenges have been finding my identity as a person and then the injuries

Weirdly, those challenges seem to have brought her back to herself on the court. She owns again the variety of her game and her creativity. “The biggest challenges have been finding my identity as a person and then the injuries, and now I feel very confident in who I am. That’s been the main thing for me. I’m good now and healthy. All of it has helped me. Every time I step on the court, I remember who I am, and that’s more than just being a tennis player. In a way, of course, I want to take every match seriously, and it’s a do-or-die kind of thing, but I also want to put things in perspective.”

Andreescu has never hidden the fact that she’s here to win and that she struggles to find patience through the journey. But she swears she’s now getting better at it and has a mental game in place. “It’s definitely a managing point for me, but what helps me the most is going out there and having the mindset of “I already won,” manifesting that before the match, but during the match, it’s point by point. That has helped me a lot with managing my expectations because I already put it in the back of my head before the match, and then when I’m on the court, it’s about staying in the present.”

If I'm on, I can win any tournament I want

Andreescu knows she’s coming back from some dark places and wasn’t that far from career-ending circumstances. So she enjoys her life on Tour way more now. “Any chance I can step on the court is a win for me. But if I can get that extra win of actually winning the match and finishing it off, it's a bonus. My goal is to keep having that momentum. I want to win every match I play, but I know that's not always possible. (…) The more I play and win, the more confidence I'm getting. So, I feel like if I'm on, I can win any tournament I want. I just have to be on. I have to be focused and physically well.”

She has one thing going for her: she already won that Major. “I have that confidence. I know that I've done it. And having done that, I know that I can do it again. I know it's been fricking, what, five years. But I know I haven't had, let's say, the easiest career after that.” Now comes maybe the time for Bianca Andreescu to play freely for a longer enough stretch to see if the sky is still her limit.

That’s a very brave way to take a loss. Katie Boulter, winner in Nottingham, was down 4-2 in that third set against Harriet Dart and then came back to lead 6-2 in the tie-break. But she lost that one 11-9. Heartbreak. Yet, she refused to be too down on herself and decided to see that loss as a trigger to better things.

“I wouldn't say it’s a missed opportunity because she was better than me today. She beat me, so... I don't feel like anything was a massive opportunity. This time next year I'm going to be a better player. It might be because of today, and I'm going to use that tough moment out there to really spur me on for the next few months. Yeah, I mean, it wasn't a missed opportunity. It's tennis. You win some, you lose some. Today I lost. Made a lot of errors. But it is what it is.”

Naomi Osaka came to press on the verge of tears, but she got through it. Very disappointed with the way she played and lost against Emma Navarro (6-4, 6-1). As her coach, Wim Fissette, told me in Madrid, Osaka has been working very hard to find her way back to the top, but now it’s time for her to get rewarded. Grass isn’t a surface she’s comfortable on, but she has tried her best this season.

Yet it wasn’t enough, and Osaka was very honest in saying she struggled with her confidence. “I don't think it was the greatest from my end. But I was very grateful to play on Centre Court. (…) I'm a little disappointed because I wanted to do really well. I feel like I put a lot of time into it. (…) , I don't know why, I didn't feel fully confident in myself. I didn't feel like I was playing that well. Those doubts started trickling in a lot into my game. I don't know why those thoughts were so prevalent. (…) Since I'm out so early, I really want to take the time and train for the Olympics because I do want to do well. I do know that my last clay court match was really good. So I might end up liking that surface a lot more than grass now (smiling).”

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Nike shares at their lowest in four years

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  • A week ago, Nike shares tumbled 20% following a weak earnings reveal—Nike’s biggest decrease since 1980. The brand’s sales have been down 10% this quarter, and it expects a 4 to 6% decline in the 2025 fiscal year. So the swoosh isn’t doing fantastic right now, hitting its lowest since March 2020, which is not good news for tennis. It also needs to be seen in the context of brands like On or Hoka coming for Nike’s domination. Front Office Sports reports that Nike could release cheaper shoes (under $100) to correct course.

  • Wimbledon and IBM’s Catch Me Up innovation failed to launch. Well, how glad Wimbledon is to still have a nice bunch of human writers? Very glad, we think, after the rough start of their AI-generated content. As criticism kept growing as the errors kept happening, a spokesperson for the All England Club tried to explain the situation to The Guardian: “The Catch Me Up feature is a first-of-its-kind pilot within sport, delivered in partnership with IBM. This AI innovation will naturally continue to evolve as the system’s capability builds, with the assistance of human checks. This feature complements the traditional breadth of rich editorial content created by our team of writers who provide in-depth coverage of the championships for audiences around the world.” We need technology, and we need humans: sound obvious, but you know…

  • Another tennis movie? Yes! The Ink Factory (The Night Manager) and their partners Marc Platt and Adam Siegel for Marc Platt Productions (La La Land, Cruella) have decided to bring the incredible story of the German tennis champion Gottfried von Cramm to the screen. Hossein Amini adapted the film from Marshall Jon Fisher’s A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played. The story will be told in German and English.

Worries around Hurkacz ahead of the Olympics

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Hubert Hurkacz risked it all. And maybe he shouldn’t have. The Polish player retired, match point down, in his second round against Arthur Fils after badly injuring his right knee (7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-6 ab.). He was 5-3 up in that fourth set yet had to save a match point at 7-7 in the tie-break. He won a crazy point after diving to get to 8-7, and that’s when it all went wrong.

Hurkacz just couldn’t get up, so Fils started to worry and called for help. The trainer came in and tried to see what was going on, and when he was able to get Hurkacz back up, the player just couldn’t walk. Surely, the match was over, no? Well, no. Hurkacz got an MTO, then got a very heavy tape on that knee and, wobbling, decided to resume the match. On the way, he stopped to chat with someone from his team who seemed to wonder - like us all - what the hell he was doing.

When you dive, you take a lot of risks

Gaël Monfils

Anyway, Hurkacz came back AND DIVED AGAIN. Let me tell you that everybody around me in the press center just screamed. And we all sighed of relief when, down 8-9, Hurkacz finally decided to stop. Barely able to walk, he left the court and will now start a series of medical tests to decide the fate of his Olympic Games.

“He’s a friend. He’s the nicest guy on Tour. Everybody loves him,” said Arthur Fils about Hurkacz after the match. Gaël Monfils, who is an expert in diving on the court, confirmed that it was a dangerous habit. “I hope it's not too serious for him. Each time I say it, but when you dive, you take a lot of risks. The thing is that when you dive, you kind of forget what you’re doing, what’s the reality of it: you just want to win the point, and sometimes it costs you a lot. Each time, it hurts. I’ve never got back up without pain. Sometimes you think ‘why did you dive’ but you want to win the point so much.” It wasn’t a good day for the knees at Wimbledon, as Thanasi Kokkinakis had to retire in his second round against Lucas Pouille after injuring his left knee on a fall.

The nominations are in!

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  • The ITF announces entries and practical information regarding the Olympics in Paris. Three courts will be used at Roland-Garros: the Chatrier, the Lenglen, and the Simonne Mathieu. For the first seven days, there will be a night session starting at 7 pm. You can find the entries lists here, and click here for details about the qualification system:

    Paris 2024 players lists.pdf489.94 KB • PDF File
  • The doubles players are threatening legal action regarding the changes the Tour is about to make, including restricting entries to tournaments. They say it poses “an existential threat” to their livelihood. “A letter threatening legal action – signed by 49 players including more than half of the world’s top 20 doubles players – was sent to the men’s professional tour earlier the week,” reports I.

  • Twenty years after her Wimbledon win, Maria Sharapova returned to the Centre Court. “My first time as a spectator here… I’ve never felt so relaxed or so glammed up to attend Wimbledon before. (…) “It feels a little bit like an out-of-body experience!” she told Tennis Channel. Sharapova has been on the Wimbledon grounds for a little while already, as she was walking around with her son last Saturday.

  • Tennis Royalty kept flocking to Wimbledon as Mirka Federer was spotted on Wednesday on Centre Court for the match between Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini. And her infamous husband Roger on Thursday.

  • Coco Gauff is on a French mission. And not a Mission: Impossible. At press, Gauff indeed confirmed she still intended to master the French language at some point. “I'm just, like, on and off. I get unconfident in my French when I go to Paris specifically. Sometimes they're not nice when it comes to me trying to speak French. I do want to do it one day. I understand it more than I can, like, speak. I think I'm just trying to be more confident in it. But I do try my best at home to do as much. I used to have a tutor. During COVID I actually had a tutor, but it became tough to schedule lessons with the schedule. It is something that I'll try to do again maybe during the off-season.”

Nike, what are you doing again?

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As seen previously, Nike is having a rough time with its sales. So, we understand that tennis players’ outfits aren’t the brand’s top priority right now. But why would you pass on opportunities to increase some sales by designing proper tennis outfits? For the second Grand Slam event in a row, I am left baffled by Nike’s choices.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry! Why would you put this on Naomi Osaka? Like, what happened there? I can see the vision, but I would love to unsee the execution. Carlos Alcaraz was already done dirty at Roland-Garros, we had a rant about it, and now it was Osaka’s turn for Wimbledon. Unfortunately for the Japanese, she still didn’t find a way to keep winning. Nike in tennis has had so many great fashion statements and iconic outfits that it’s really sad to see where it is now. Who has gone to the shops demanding that Alcaraz outfit, and who will rush to catch that Osaka outfit? And in a year where “tenniscore” is everywhere… It’s own goal after own goal.


WATCH: Judy Murray going through her son Andy’s stories in the Times. 20 years of coverage. “The whole thing was all just a bit much. Having paparazzi parked outside the little basement flat, there were so many things we had to learn because nobody prepares you for that sudden explosion into the limelight. And he never left it.”

READ: If you’re interested in going to see the movie once it’s out, then you might also want to read Jon Fisher’s A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played.