Andy Murray broke down in tears today as he revealed that he will end his incredible tennis career at Wimbledon later this year after failing to overcome a devastating hip injury.
In an emotional press conference, the two-time Wimbledon champion, 31, revealed that the pain was so great that the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, could be the last tournament he ever plays in.
He said that he hopes to go on until Wimbledon this summer but feels that even that may be a bridge too far, with the pain becoming so unbearable that he was struggling to even put on socks or shoes.
The Scot, who was thrashed in a practice match by Novak Djokovic yesterday, still plans to take his place in the Melbourne draw, but he could not rule out walking away from the sport if he loses in the first round.
It would bring down the curtain on one of the great British sporting careers, one that has seen him win three Grand Slams, two Olympic golds and the Davis Cup.
The announcement was met with shock and sadness from the tennis world, with former icons such as Billie Jean King and Andy Roddick calling the Brit a ‘great champion’ and ‘absolute legend’.
Murray, a father-of-two, began his press conference by stating ‘I’m not great’ in a broken tone when asked how he was feeling after an 18-month battle to return to the sport.
He then became emotional and left the room for several minutes to compose himself, and on returning laid bare in heartbreaking detail how the pain in his hip meant he had stopped enjoying the sport he loved.
Andy Murray, Britain’s greatest ever tennis player, is set to retire this year after failing to overcome a longstanding hip injury
The Scot broke down in tears during his press conference as he announced his decision to end his career at Wimbledon
The former World No 1 has been struggling with his injury for more than eighteen months and said his fitness was ‘not great’
The tennis world reacted with shock and sadness after Murray made his shocking announcement during an emotional press conference
A British great: Key Andy Murray facts
Born: May 15, 1987
Height: 6ft 3′
Wife: Kim Sears
Children: Sophia (2), Edie (15 months)
Turned professional: 2005
Grand Slam titles: 3 (Wimbledon 2013, 2016; US Open 2012)
Career wins: 663
Career titles: 45
Highest ranking: World No 1
Current ranking: World No 230
It seems that his dream of his daughters being able to watch him seriously compete is now, sadly, at an end.
‘Obviously I have been struggling a long time and I have been in pain for about twenty months now,’ he said.
‘I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.
‘I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.
‘I’m going to play here. I can still play to a certain level, not a level I’m happy playing at.
It’s not just that. The pain is too much really, I don’t want to continue playing that way.
‘I’ve tried pretty much everything I could do but it hasn’t worked. In the middle of December I spoke to my team and told them I can’t keep doing this.
Murray is a double-Wimbledon champion, having last lifted the trophy in 2016 (shown left). He is pictured alongside his wife Kim at the Wimbledon Winners’ Ball that year (right)
The 31-year-old will still play in the Australian Open, where he faces the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round
Murray wants to finish his career at Wimbledon this year, but admits his fitness may stop him from a fairy-tale farewell
The Dunblane born star struggled to contain his emotions as he tried to address the press ahead of the Australian Open
Murray excused himself from the room to compose himself for a minute before returning to deliver his announcement
The three-time Grand Slam winner wipes away tears from his eyes as he leaves his press briefing following his decision
‘I thought I need to have an end point, because I was playing with no idea of when the pain was going to stop.
‘I said to them maybe I could get through this until Wimbledon, that is where I would like to stop playing but I am also not certain I am able to do that.’
Asked whether this could turn out to be his last event he replied: ‘There’s a chance of that for sure.’
Murray, whose coach Jamie Delgado later tweeted, ‘That wasn’t the easiest day I’ve ever had’, would love to be able to take his final bow on the Centre Court but things have got so bad that he may not get to depart at the time and place of his choosing.
‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months. I have considered another operation that is a little more severe (than the one he had this time last year).
‘I could have my hip resurfaced which would allow me a better quality of life. I’m seriously considering that right now but there’s no guanratees with it.’
‘It would be nice to do things without any pain, putting shoes and socks on, that would be the main reason for me doing it.’
The Scot faced away from the cameras and press as he attempted to compose himself during the difficult situation
The signs were not good for Murray as he was thrashed in a practice match by Novak Djokovic ahead of the tournament
Murray cut a visibly frustrated figure during the day as he talked with his coaching staff during the practice match
SIR ANDY MURRAY’S MOST MEMORABLE MATCHES
2008, Wimbledon, 4th round – bt Richard Gasquet 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 6-4
The match that established Murray’s reputation for never giving up. The 21-year-old was two sets and a break down before recovering to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam for the first time. The backhand down the line during the third-set tie-break that left him almost in the crowd is arguably his most memorable shot.
2011, Japan Open, final – bt Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-2, 6-0
Having lost to Nadal in three successive grand slam semi-finals, Murray produced one of his best ATP Tour performances, coming from a set down to defeat the great Spaniard with a fine display of attacking tennis.
2012, Olympic Games, gold medal match – bt Roger Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
Four weeks after his heartbreaking Wimbledon final loss to Federer, Murray played arguably the greatest match of his career to claim his first global title. Admittedly he was facing a tired Federer but this was complete domination in front of a raucous and disbelieving Centre Court crowd.
2012, US Open, final – bt Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2
In his fifth final, Murray finally won a grand slam title in fittingly dramatic fashion. It looked like he might have blown his chance when Djokovic fought back from two sets down to level but the Scot was not to be denied.
2013, Australian Open, semis – bt Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2
Going for a second successive slam title, Murray secured his only slam victory over Federer. Although it took five sets, the Swiss was hanging on to Murray with his fingernails for most of the match and was helpless in the fifth set.
2013, Wimbledon, final – bt Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4
The most important match of Murray’s career was a fitting way for the Scot to end Fred Perry’s 77-year reign as the last home men’s singles winner. Superb throughout, the final game was a match in itself before Murray at last got his hands on the golden trophy.
2015, Davis Cup, final – bt David Goffin 6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Of all Murray’s many wonderful achievements, winning the Davis Cup for Great Britain virtually single-handed in 2015 might well be the best of them. It was fitting he should win the final point against Belgium in Ghent, sealed with a stunning lob.
2016, French Open, semis – bt Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
The match that showed Murray had conquered clay as he knocked out the defending champion to reach his only final at Roland Garros.
2016, Wimbledon, final – bt Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2)
For the first time in his 11 slam finals, Murray found someone other than Federer or Djokovic on the other side of the net. From the start, he stamped his authority on first-time finalist Raonic and did not let up.
2016, Olympics, gold medal match – bt Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
This gruelling, emotional victory in Rio gave Murray something none of his illustrious rivals have managed as he became the first tennis player to successfully defend an Olympic singles title.
He sounded very pessimistic that it would be the kind of surgery that would allow him to play again. He even ruled out the idea of becoming a doubles player, which would require less movement.
Murray saw his Australian surgeon John O’ Donnell on Thursday, the same man who operated on him on January 8 last year.
‘I have a severely damaged right hip,’ was Murray’s conclusion. ‘The pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing.’
He also spoke of the mental turmoil of having to answer questions about his health: ‘Everyone I bump into that’s all they want to talk about, it’s pretty draining. I have spoken to psychologists about it. It’s not fun or enjoyable.’
Murray’s career highlights include two Wimbledons, a US Open title and two Olympic gold medals, at London and Rio.
He also carried Great Britain to victory in the 2015 Davis Cup, winning eleven matches over four rounds under the old format.
Grand Slams were what would go on to define any great champion but Murray quickly excelled at the Olympics, first in front of a home crowd at London 2012 beating Roger Federer, before collecting his second with victory over Juan Martin del Potro.
Murray is a two-time Wimbledon winner, a US Open winner, a double Olympic gold medallist and a former World No 1
Murray poses with the Wimbledon trophy, and his wife Kim, after his first victory in 2013, where he beat Novak Djokovic
SIR ANDY MURRAY’S CAREER BY NUMBERS
1 – Murray became the first British singles player ever to officially be ranked world number one on November 7, 2016.
41 – The number of weeks the Scot spent on top of the rankings.
3 – Grand slam titles
11 – Grand slam finals
45 – Career singles titles
2 – Doubles titles, both with brother Jamie
9 – Singles titles in 2016, including five in a row to end the season as world number one
2 – Olympic singles gold medals
11 – Murray won all 11 rubbers he contested to drive Great Britain to Davis Cup glory in 2015, an unprecedented feat
663 – Tour-level matches won
£47,887,068 – Career prize money
3 – Only person to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year three times
5,573 – Aces served
29 – Combined wins against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
But the maiden Slam title was the big breakthrough – and it came across the Atlantic.
His first Grand Slam brought with it plenty of history as his success at Flushing Meadows saw him end Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion.
The epic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic in the US Open final lasted four hours and 54 minutes in New York but was a sign that the Briton was a big player at the top of the game.
Wimbledon remained the one he craved so dearly and 12 months on from his success in the Olympic Games, he was back on Centre Court with the trophy in his hands. A clinical 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win over Djokovic was a stylish way to give those in attendance memories that will not have faded to this day.
SW19 is where Murray wants to end his career now – and where he feels most at home.
Building on the decisive 2013 win over Djokovic, Murray collected his second Wimbledon singles title three years later with victory against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
However it now appears that it is purely a question of whether he can get through the next few weeks, let alone recapture former glories.
Reaction to the news was swift on Thursday night, with America’s former world number one Andy Roddick leading the way.
He took to Twitter, writing: ‘I tip my cap to @andy_murray ! Absolute legend. Short list of best tacticians in history. Unreal results in a brutal era …… Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy.’
Murray beat Roger Federer to Olympic gold during the 2012 Olympics in London, a month after losing the Wimbledon final
He added a second Olympic gold medal to his impressive list of successes when he beat Juan Martin del Potro out in Rio
Murray tasted his first Grand Slam success at the age of 25 when he beat Novak Djokovic in New York in the 2012 US Open
Tennis coach Darren Cahill added: ‘When you search for examples of ’emptied the bucket to be as good as they could be’ there should be a picture of Andy Murray sitting under that quote.
‘Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection, a little crazy… but a legend of a bloke. Bravo Andy.’
Former women’s world No 1 Tracy Austin, speaking on TennisTV, said: ‘It was just really hard to watch Andy practice (on Wednesday). It was a practice match against (Novak) Djokovic and it was 6-1, 4-1 and he wasn’t really moving.
‘He is giving it every shot in the off-season to come back after hip surgery. Such a good guy and Djokovic even tried to help him. It is really tough to hear the news.’
Women’s ace Donna Vekic simply tweeted the praying hands and a sad face emoji as she reacted to the news in the early hours of Friday morning.
The sight of his wife Kim (left) and mum Judy (right) supporting him grew ever more familiar throughtout his career
He has shown his emotional side often throughout his career, most notably after losing the Wimbledon final to Federer in 2012
TIMELINE OF ANDY MURRAY’S TROUBLE WITH INJURY
June 9, 2017 – Murray puts shaky form going into the French Open behind him to reach the semi-finals before losing to Swiss ace Stan Wawrinka but begins to feel the flare-up of a long-standing hip issue that had previously been under control
June 27, 2017 – Murray does not mention his hip problem after losing his first match at Queen’s to Jordan Thompson but is forced to publicly acknowledge it when he pulls out of a scheduled exhibition match at the Hurlingham Club, a move cited as precautionary
July 2, 2017 – After pulling out of a second Hurlingham match, Murray calms fears he may be forced to miss Wimbledon by confirming on the eve of the tournament that he will play
July 12, 2017 – Walking with a noticeable limp, Murray battles his way into the quarter-finals but his title defence ends with a five-set loss to Sam Querrey. Afterwards, Murray insists he does not expect to be away from the tour for too long
August 26, 2017 – After pulling out of two Masters events and losing his world No 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal, Murray travels to New York intending to return at the US Open. But two days before the tournament he announces at a press conference that he is pulling out, saying his hip is too sore to give him a chance of winning the tournament
September 6, 2017 – Murray heads home for further consultations with a number of hip specialists then announces he is likely to miss the rest of the year but is hoping to avoid surgery
January 2, 2018 – Murray schedules the Brisbane International for his second attempt at a comeback only to pull out on the eve of his first match. In a heartfelt post on Instagram accompanied by a childhood photo, Murray says: ‘I choose this pic as the little kid inside me just wants to play tennis and compete. I genuinely miss it so much and I would give anything to be back out there.’
January 8, 2018 – Murray announces he has undergone hip surgery in Melbourne. In an upbeat assessment, he says surgeon John O’Donnell is very happy and that he is targeting a return for the grass-court season
March 28, 2018 – Murray posts his first picture on social media after returning to on-court training at Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy in Nice
May 8, 2018 – After Murray does not enter a Challenger tournament in Glasgow that had been earmarked for his return, it emerges he has suffered a setback in his recovery and has been forced to take more time away from the court
June 5, 2018 – Murray says he is ‘getting closer’ to a return but pulls out of his scheduled first grass event of the season at the Libema Open in Holland
June 16, 2018 – After two weeks back on court, Murray announces just before the draw that he will make his comeback at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club
June 19, 2018 – A lengthy 342 days since his last competitive outing, Murray finally makes it back on court in the Fever-Tree Championships against Nick Kyrgios. He puts up a good fight but eventually loses his first-round match 2-6, 7-6 (7/4) 7-5.
June 25, 2018 – Murray beats Wawrinka at Eastbourne but is then comfortably dispatched in the round of 16 by British No 1 Kyle Edmund as he continues to feel his way back into games
July 30, 2018 – Murray fans grow in confidence at the Scot’s increased participation and a run to the quarter-finals – where he is beaten due to a walkover for Alex de Minaur – suggests he is slowly on the rise again
August 13, 2018 – A first round exit to Lucas Pouille shows that Murray is struggling to recapture the form that saw him go on to win Wimbledon twice as his hip issues see him hold back in three-set match
August 30, 2018 – In only his fifth tournament back since returning from hip surgery, Murray falters in four sets against Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open second round as the sweltering conditions did little to help his cause. His noticeable limp between points became more and more obvious as the points rolled on
September 28, 2018 – A quarter-final defeat in Shenzen to Verdasco sees Murray call time on the 2018 season as he takes time away to get himself in the best possible condition for the 2019 Australian Open
December 27, 2018 – Despite some time away since losing to Verdasco in Asia, Murray admits the pain is still prominent as he prepares to play in the Brisbane International, a warm-up tournament for the Australian Open. In his last-16 tie against Russian star Daniil Medvedev, Murray is comfortably beaten 7-5, 6-2 as fears grow over the condition of his hip
January 10, 2019 – Leaves Australian Open press conference in tears and suggests his time in Melbourne could be his last Grand Slam tournament due to the pain being too much to continue playing through