Tennis is a competitive sport. If you are a tennis player your aim is to win tennis matches. It is not your job to entertain, crack jokes and play keepy-uppy with a tennis ball. But because he does not have the charm of Andre Agassi, the free spirited nature of Ilie Nastase or the good humour of Jimmy Connors, people hate Andy Murray.
Britain has been rubbish at tennis for decades. Aside for ‘Tiger’ Tim Henman there has not been a decent male tennis player produced from these shores for more than 70 years. So why, when we finally have a great white hope, a man who can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s best, do we criticise him?
You don’t get extra points on a tennis court for having a laugh. You don’t improve your world ranking just by flashing your teeth. You need to win as many matches as you can, challenge the world’s finest players and hope that – one day – your game will be good enough to win a Grand Slam. If Andy Murray thinks that the best way to perform at his highest level is to retain his focus, blot out the crowd and concentrate, then so what? Don’t British tennis fans want the same thing as him? To see him win a major tournament? To see him win Wimbledon? Shouldn’t we get behind him and his philosophies, no matter what?
Over the years Britain has produced some world class sporting athletes. Linford Christie, Nigel Mansell and Stephen Hendry to name but a few. Did they have stellar personalities? Did they light up their respective sports with charisma and charm? NO. But they were winners. And I’m sure Andy Murray would rather be remembered as a winner than someone who larked about and ended up trying to please everyone. Because perhaps the most famous case of a sportsman who tried to please everyone is Gazza. And his tragic story should never be repeated.