My regrets over England joke, by Andy Murray

Grand Slam winner has had to work hard for support

The partisan put-down was Andy Murray's attempt at a verbal smash. But joking that he would "support whoever England were playing against" was one shot the teenage tennis star would live to regret. He admitted last week that it had cost him the support of some English fans.

The defensive jibe, teased out of him during a joint interview with Tim Henman in 2006, turned Wimbledon crowds hostile just when the young player from Dunblane most needed their backing.

"I was only 19 or 20 at the time. 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 at Wimbledon were saying that to me," Murray revealed.

The seriousness of the situation hit home after he overheard one tennis fan at Wimbledon describe him on the phone as "that Scottish wanker" as he walked past. "It's not nice, obviously, and I felt I hadn't done anything wrong." His comment, he said, was a response to teasing about Scotland's absence from the World Cup. What he called "unbelievable" early fan support evaporated, forcing him, he admitted, to have to "reconnect" with the British public.

But it was a long haul, with every agonising defeat serving to underline for many south of the border Murray's Scottish blood. As the Twitter joke went: "Murray is British when he wins; and Scottish when he loses."

Last week's victory in the US Open in New York, the first in a Grand Slam event for a male British tennis player for 76 years, coming on top of the Olympic gold medal for his country, will ensure Murraymania is firmly back on course next time he steps on court. It could even see the 25-year-old bag another title in three months' time: Sports Personality of the Year. William Hill slashed odds on Murray winning to 11/4 from 6/1 the previous week, although Bradley Wiggins remains the favourite.

Local fans will get their chance to pay homage to Murray today when the US Open champion takes part in a walkabout around Dunblane at midday, after arriving in an open-top bus. He will pause at his golden postbox en route to the Dunblane Tennis Club courts where he started out. The visit comes after Murray missed the victory parade for Scottish Olympians in Glasgow on Friday.

As well as rescuing him from his own English hell, victory at Flushing Meadows catapulted Murray into sport's super league, with marketing experts predicting his earnings could quadruple to £100m over his career. The win was worth $1.9m (nearly £1.2m) in prize money alone, but the real value lies in sponsorship deals. He already has a £15m five-year deal with Adidas, as well as lucrative contracts with Royal Bank of Scotland, Head racquets, Jaguar and the Swiss watchmaker Rado.

Nigel Currie, director of the sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, said yesterday: "Murray's appeal is that tennis, like golf, is genuinely global, so, if you are in the top one or two in the world, then you are a global superstar. All the really big brands that sponsor the World Cup or the Olympics, like Visa, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Nike, will be looking at him now." Mr Currie calculated that Murray's earnings off court, which are already around £7.5m a year, "could triple over the next 12 months" alone.

With the question of whether he could win a Grand Slam event finally answered, Murray will find attention shifting instead to his personal life and any plans with his long-term girlfriend, Kim Sears. The couple, who live in Surrey, have been together for seven years. But Murray is not being rushed into anything: "I have no plans to get married right now. I am still fairly young. But we'll see."

News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing