Trending: Forty-love to Andy Murray in the crying game

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Murray's blubs saw him join an elite band of damp-eyed sports people. But it's not just athletes enjoying a tear-propelled popularity bounce. John Walsh grabs a hanky

There's never been a post-match interview like it. Just before it, the Centre Court crowd and the 17 million-strong TV audience had watched with grudging sympathy as Andy Murray picked up his runner's-up prize. He held the plate aloft as if it were a silver "Thinks" balloon emblazoned with the word "LOSER". His face was a familiar picture of flared-nostril disgust and grumpy petulance, the visage of a lanky teenager whining, "It's not faaaiiiiiir".

A little over three minutes later he approached Sue Barker for the time-honoured interchange of banalities – and something extraordinary happened.

Instead of speaking, Murray held the microphone at thigh level, while his face, with eyes closed, searched the sky for inspiration. His head swung from side to side like Stevie Wonder singing "I Just Called to Say I Love You". The crowd looked on, nonplussed. Was he having a seizure?

Then the penny dropped. Murray was weeping. His first words into the microphone – "I'll try but it won't be easy" – came out all wobbly, his voice careering up and down the chromatic scale like a Swanee whistle.

His next words – "I'm getting closer" – drew applause for their acknowledgement that the road to being tennis's numero uno was a long, hard one. Andy the Dour was suddenly Zeno the Stoic. When he said he couldn't look at his Team Murray family, for fear of crying again, our hearts melted even further.

The former grumpy Scots git, the previous holder of the Most Peevish and Sulky (and Boring-Voiced) British Sportsman Alive Trophy, was transformed into a sensitive, charming youth weeping a pool of regret and shame, and asking his audience to understand how he felt.

"Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean," wrote Tennyson. But we do, don't we? In a world of style projection and image management, they're the real thing. Paul Gascoigne, previously taken for a rather thick and clownish fellow, became a hero during the 1990 World Cup when, on receiving a second yellow card and realising he was debarred – should England get past West Germany – from playing in the final, he burst into tears of sorrow.

The team fool had turned into the "man of sentiment" – a figure from the late 18th century, when gentlemen routinely boasted about how copiously they'd wept during a play, a recital or a hanging.

Unexpected public weeping isn't solely restricted to our nation's sportsmen. It also gets to politicians. Mrs Thatcher convinced the nation she possessed a heart of tungsten steel until the day in November 1990 when she left Downing Street with a lake of tears trembling in her hurt blue eyes. It was too late, unfortunately, to do her any good.

Hillary Clinton's tear ducts, by contrast, became so regularly choked up during speeches on the 2008 campaign trail when she was seeking the Democratic nomination that opponents accused her of "using tears as a campaign strategy".

Nor did tears work for our very own Ken Livingstone when, at his mayoral manifesto launch, he wept at the spectacle of "ordinary Londoners" saying how much they wanted him to be mayor – in words written by his staff.

Tears won't guarantee that the world will start to love you. The damning word "crocodile" lurks behind every public display of emotion. But sometimes they act as a revelation that a heart hitherto dismissed as pure Scottish granite has a melting point after all. You know what they say: in lacrimae veritas.

The ratings match-up

How did the men's final compare to other recent big TV events?

13.7m: The X Factor final, ITV1

11.9m: Diamond Jubilee flotilla, BBC1

16.9m: Diamond Jubilee concert , BBC1

23.2m: England vs Italy (Euro 2012), BBC1

16.9m: Murray vs Federer, BBC1

Peak figures

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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.

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum