Andy Murray of Great Britain might be playing his last competitive Tennis match at next week’s Australian Open. The former world number one and three-time Grand Slam winner was all in tears at a press conference in Melbourne on Friday when he announced he would likely retire this year due to severe pain from a hip injury, saying the pain had become almost unbearable.
“I can play with limitations. But having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training.
“I think there is a chance the Australian Open is my last tournament,” he said amidst outpouring grieving emotions.
Thirty-one-year-old Scot, who was the first male Briton to win Wimbledon in 77 years, said he would like to finish his competitive career in summer at Wimbledon, his home Grand Slam event, but regretfully admitted he might not make it that far.
“Wimbledon is where I would like to stop playing, but I am not certain I am able to do that.
“I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’m not sure I can play through the pain for another four or five months.
“Pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.”
Murray pulled out of last year’s Australian Open to have hip surgery and only returned in June at Wimbledon in London. He ended the season at Shenzhen in September after only a handful of appearances to concentrate on working his way back to full fitness.
But he was knocked out in the second round on his return at Brisbane last week and called it quits on Thursday after less than an hour of a practice match in Melbourne against Djokovic, with his movement clearly hampered.
He will begin his opening-round match at the Australian Open against 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut next week.
Murray, who will be largely remembered as a Tennis player who battled his way to the Big Four Group in a golden era for the game alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, has slumped in recent times in ranking to 230. He hasn’t reached a Grand Slam final since winning his second Wimbledon title in 2016, but has nevertheless enjoyed a glittering career since turning professional in 2005, with not only three Grand Slam titles, but two Olympic gold medals and 45 ATP titles. His first Wimbledon title in 2013 turned him into a folk hero in Britain.
Meanwhile, messages of love and encouragement have been pouring in for him since he made the announcement. Billie Jean King, a legendary Tennis figure, called him “a champion on and off court”, referring to Murray’s long-time support of women’s equality in tennis.
“So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations,” she said.
Top Australian coach Darren Cahill, who until recently was mentoring world number one Simona Halep, said Murray was an example of the never-say-die attitude that separated the best from the average.
“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,” he tweeted.
“Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection, a little crazy but a legend of a bloke.”
Former star Andy Roddick also paid tribute on Twitter.
“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,” he said.
World number five Juan Martin del Potro, who has also struggled with injuries and will miss the Australian Open, told Murray to “keep fighting”.
“We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well,” he added.
Murray said he had an option of another operation on his troublesome hip, but this might be in preparation for his life after Tennis.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now,” he said.