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

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
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.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album