LONDON – Andy Murray has warned the country’s tennis establishment that if the millions of dollars generated by Wimbledon are squandered, Britain may wait another 77 years to celebrate a homegrown champion.
The 26-year-old Scot became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the Wimbledon singles crown with his 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 victory over world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
But amidst the hysteria and the congratulations, which poured in from Hollywood stars to Queen Elizabeth, Murray highlighted that the sport is still struggling in Britain.
World number two Murray is Britain’s only player in the top 200.
James Ward is the next best at 219 with Daniel Baker at 255 and Alex Bogdanovic, at 275, in the slipstream.
Only Ward, who is already 26 years old, and top junior, South African-born Kyle Edmund, joined Murray at Wimbledon but both were knocked out in the first round.
All this despite Wimbledon making a profit of $56.248 million in 2012, all of which was ploughed back into the sport in the country.
“I would hope that it wouldn’t be that long again. It’s an incredibly difficult tournament to win, so it’s possible that it could take a long time,” said Murray.
“I think with the amount of money that’s invested in the sport in this country, then it shouldn’t take another 70 odd years.”
Murray spent his formative years outside of the British training system, spending most of his time as a junior in Spain.
He believes his success at Wimbledon and his independent tennis upbringing taught him to be tough, to persevere and not to rely on the cash handouts of Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association who have been under pressure to cut the dead wood in the system.
“I think I persevered. That’s really been it, the story of my career probably. I had a lot of tough losses, but the one thing I would say is I think every year I always improved a little bit,” said Murray.
“They weren’t major improvements, massive changes, but every year my ranking was going in the right direction.
“I was always going a little bit further in the slams. I kept learning and I just kept working as hard as I could.
“When I lost those matches sometimes I dealt with them badly, but I think the last few losses that I’ve had in slam finals I’ve dealt with them a lot better.”
Murray won Wimbledon at his eighth attempt while his breakthrough major victory at the US Open in 2012 came after he had lost all four of his first Grand Slam final appearances.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard. You know, for the last four or five years, it’s been very, very tough, very stressful, a lot of pressure,” he added.