Andy Murray: It probably took my tears to reconnect me with the public

Praise was heaped on Andy Murray for winning the US Open last week. But the emotion he showed at Wimbledon earlier this summer proved equally significant in rebuilding his image in the heartlands

Andy Murray hates the English, doesn't he? He said that before the World Cup a few years ago. He reckoned he'd be supporting anyone England were playing – just what you'd expect from a grumpy Scot.

Those of us who have followed Murray around the world have grown used to hearing such nonsense. We have heard it in taxis, at the bar, over the dinner-party table and even at tennis clubs, where you might have expected people to be better informed about Britain's best player for three-quarters of a century.

Murray still believes he did nothing wrong when he joked, during a joint interview with Tim Henman in 2006, that he would be supporting ''whoever England were playing against''. It was a throwaway joke – and initially reported as such – in response to teasing about Scotland's absence from the World Cup.

Within days, however, the comment had been seized upon by bigots all too ready to feed their own prejudices. They conveniently ignored the fact that Murray lived in England, had an English girlfriend, an English grandmother, an English entourage and a host of English friends.

Soon it was a misconception that had spread to the most unlikely places. At Wimbledon that year Murray was walking back from a practice session when he heard a woman talking on her mobile phone. ''That Scottish wanker's just walked by,'' she said.

Even at the start of this summer you would still have got long odds on the 25-year-old Scot being voted Sports Personality of the Year. In three months' time, however, that accolade may well be the final confirmation that Murray has won over the British public.

Murray's tears at Wimbledon after defeat in the final, his joy at winning gold for his country at the Olympics and last week's crowning triumph, when he won the US Open to become Britain's first male Grand Slam singles champion for 76 years, have finally earned him the place in public hearts that his achievements had long merited.

As Murray reflected last week on his glorious summer, he recalled the abuse he had been given at Wimbledon in the wake of his England joke. ''I was only 19 or 20 at the time,'' he said. ''I was still a kid and I was getting things sent to my locker saying things like: 'I hope you lose every tennis match for the rest of your life'. That's at Wimbledon. Even people within the grounds were saying stuff to me.

''It's not nice, obviously, and I felt I hadn't done anything wrong. But I started to understand how things worked a bit better after that and started to become a bit more guarded. Speaking to people about it and how to deal with that stuff helped me.

''You need to try and be yourself as much as possible, but at the same time if people don't like you it's not really your problem. You need to make sure that you stay true to yourself and the people around you and hopefully things will turn round.''

The improvement in his on-court demeanour has also helped Murray's public image. Since Ivan Lendl became his coach there has been more focus on the job in hand and less scowling, cursing and ranting in the general direction of his entourage. He even shaves every now and then.

Murray believes it has been a case of ''reconnecting'' with the British public. ''When I first started playing at Wimbledon the support I had was unbelievable,'' he said. ''Everyone was saying to me, 'A breath of fresh air.' Whatever Tim [Henman] or Greg [Rusedski] were like, I was different.

''I was so excitable and so motivated and said things in press that maybe I shouldn't have. You get away with it when you're young. I was still young when I was 19 or 20, but people start to question you and look into the way you're acting on the court. Everything that you're saying is judged and you need to become a bit more careful. Over the last few months I've definitely had that connection come back. I hope it stays that way because it helps.''

He added: ''It's a shame that it took me crying at Wimbledon to maybe change that a little bit, but the support I've had over the last few months has been unbelievable.''

Public affection has been accompanied by private wealth. Forbes magazine recently listed Murray as the fourth-highest- paid male tennis player – behind Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – with estimated total annual earnings of around £7.5 million. That should rise sharply with his US Open win, which was worth $1.9m (nearly £1.2m) in prize money alone.

However, do not expect Murray to adopt a champagne lifestyle. The Scot, who does not drink alcohol, sold his red Ferrari last year because he felt ''a bit of a prat'' driving it. He arrived at Wimbledon every day this year in a Volkswagen Polo.

Murray said that his winner's cheque in New York was ''a ridiculous amount of money'' and he had ''no idea'' what he would do with it. ''I have an accountant who will hopefully look after it well,'' he said.

He recalled his first pay-cheque – ''It would have been about £100 or something like that from a Futures tournament'' – and remembered how he had always felt bad asking for money from his parents when he went to the Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona as a teenager.

''Mum and Dad always said, 'Make sure you have enough money with you. Make sure you take enough money out.' Me and Jamie [his brother] never really did like taking money. Then once I started to earn my own money I started to appreciate it much more. When you spend your first pay-cheque and start being able to pay for things yourself it's a very nice feeling.

''At the weekends when I was in Barcelona we would just take the bus to the local supermarket and there was a McDonald's there. So we would have all the bad stuff that we shouldn't have been eating.''

As for the future, rising from No 3 to the top of the world rankings is one target for Murray. ''Obviously I can't control what the other guys do, but I can control what I do, and if I had five or six solid tournaments – a couple of years ago I did have that consistency – with an extra bit of belief and confidence in those big matches then hopefully I can go on a decent run.

''But it may be hard as well. I might find it difficult for a number of reasons but I'll try to keep it going.''

When they won their first Grand Slams, and what happened next

19: PETE SAMPRAS, 1990 US OPEN

Won a total of 14 Grand Slam titles, the last of them at the 2002 US Open, his final tournament.

22: ANDRE AGASSI, 1992 WIMBLEDON

Won seven more Grand Slam titles, the last in 2003, and retired in 2006.

20: GUSTAVO KUERTEN, 1997 FRENCH OPEN

Won two more French Opens (2000 and 2001) but was troubled by injury in latter years.

21: CARLOS MOYA, 1998 FRENCH OPEN

Became world No 1 in 1999 but never won another Grand Slam title and retired in 2009.

20: MARAT SAFIN, 2000 US OPEN

Won one more Grand Slam title (2005 Australian Open) and reached two more finals. Retired in 2009.

29: GORAN IVANISEVIC, 2001 WIMBLEDON

Never reached another final at Grand Slam or tour level and played last match three years later.

26: THOMAS JOHANSSON, 2002 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Never reached another Grand Slam final and retired three years ago.

26: ALBERT COSTA, 2002 FRENCH OPEN

Never played in another final either at Grand Slam or tour level. Retired in 2006.

20: LLEYTON HEWITT, 2001 US OPEN

Won Wimbledon the following year and was runner-up at 2004 US Open and 2005 Australian Open.

23: JUAN CARLOS FERRERO, 2003 FRENCH OPEN

Runner-up at US Open in 2003 but never went beyond a quarter-final thereafter. Retires next month.

21: ROGER FEDERER, 2003 WIMBLEDON

Extended his own all-time record of Grand Slam titles with his 17th at Wimbledon this summer.

21: ANDY RODDICK, 2003 US OPEN

Never won another Grand Slam title but was runner-up four times. Retired after this year’s US Open.

25: GASTON GAUDIO, 2004 FRENCH OPEN

Never won another Grand Slam title and fell out of world’s top 100 three years later, never to return.

19: RAFAEL NADAL, 2005 FRENCH OPEN

Has won a total of 11 Grand Slam titles but is increasingly troubled by knee injuries.

20: NOVAK DJOKOVIC, 2008 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Has won four of the last eight Grand Slam tournaments, taking his total to five.

20: JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO, 2009 US OPEN

Suffered serious wrist injury in wake of New York triumph and has yet to recapture top form.

25: ANDY MURRAY, 2012 US OPEN

Believes he will have five more years at the top of the game.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick