It was a day that Britain thought would never come.
Our renown as the hosts of the greatest tennis tournament in the world has long been undoubted. But it was an equal truism that what accompanied this honour was an abiding inability to provide a home winner, or even come close to it.
Our inability to provide a home winner in the tournament we have always hosted last! After an agonising 77 years of waiting, we finally have a Wimbledon British men’s singles champion.
Andy Murray made history on the Centre Court yesterday as he followed in Fred Perry’s footsteps to win the coveted trophy. It is a tremendous achievement because, as a nation, we tend to put an enormous pressure on our sporting stars to perform when they appear at a home event. Andy Murray coped with all that pressure, and with some style, too.
He deserves the Wimbledon title for his consistency – he has been a Wimbledon semi-finalist for five consecutive years, and yesterday was his second appearance in the final. In the past year, he has laid to rest all the anxieties that must have been created by never winning a major tennis competition, first by taking the Olympic gold at Wimbledon just a few weeks after his defeat to Roger Federer in last year’s championship, and then by going on to win his first Grand Slam competition at the US Open last year.
The Wimbledon tournament itself, though, is the icing on the cake as far as his sporting achievements are concerned. A measure of its significance can possibly be seen from the fact that it even brought out a smile from his normally poker-faced coach, Ivan Lendl, in his supporters’ box. Let us hope that Andy Murray’s victory leads to a renewal of interest in the sport at grass-roots level, and that a generation of young people is inspired by his efforts and will try to ape him, so that we do not have to wait another 77 years for the next British singles men’s champion. At present, he seems to lack support in the men’s game.
Let us also hope that this weekend of sport – which started with the British Lions’ spectacular 41-16 victory over the Australians to clinch the rugby test series and which was followed by Murray’s success – heralds a wonderful summer for our sportsmen and women. Bring on the Ashes on Wednesday.