Iranian jail to Wimbledon royal box, thanks to Andy Murray | Inquirer Sports

Iranian jail to Wimbledon royal box, thanks to Andy Murray

/ 04:25 PM July 05, 2023

Andy Murray and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe poses for a photo with Britain’s Andy Murray in the Clubhouse after his first round men’s singles match on day two of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Tuesday, July 4, 2023. (Andrew Baker/Pool Photo via AP)

Andy Murray revealed he had an “emotional” meeting with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who spent six years in an Iranian jail cell, after inviting her to watch him from the royal box at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

British-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Murray became friends after she revealed that watching the Scot win Wimbledon on television in 2016 helped sustain her during solitary confinement.

She had been accused of spying while in the country visiting her parents and held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison until her release last year.


“She hadn’t been to Wimbledon before,” said Murray.

“After the story she told me about watching my Wimbledon final while she was in a cell, I felt like I wanted to invite her to come along and watch the tennis in totally different circumstances.

“Hopefully, a much more enjoyable experience. It was very emotional talking to her and hearing her story. It was brilliant that she was able to come along and watch.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe revealed in an interview last year that prison officials allowed her access to a TV which only had two channels.


One broadcast an Iranian soap opera while the other was a sports channel showing Wimbledon when Murray was winning his second title at the tournament.

“They had no idea what they had given me,” she said.


On Tuesday, she was able to at last see Murray in the flesh on Centre Court and the two-time champion didn’t disappoint his guest as he eased past fellow Briton Ryan Peniston.

Andy Murray Wimbledon

Britain’s Andy Murray celebrates beating Britain’s Ryan Peniston after their men’s singles tennis match on the second day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 4, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

Former world number one Murray, who won his first Wimbledon title in 2013, came through 6-3, 6-0, 6-1.

Now ranked at 40, and playing with a metal hip, the 36-year-old had too much power and finesse for wildcard Peniston, the world number 268.

“It’s amazing to be back on Centre Court again,” said Murray.

“I started off quite nervously, I was a little bit tentative but once I got a break I played some good stuff.

“It’s a long time since I felt this good coming into an event as the last few years have been challenging. Hopefully I am fit and ready enough for a good run.”

Once Murray broke for a 4-2 lead in the first set under the roof of Centre Court at a rain-lashed All England Club, there was little doubt over the outcome.

He swept through the second set on the back of three breaks of serve and was 2-0 ahead in the third before Peniston stopped the bleeding.

It was too little, too late for Peniston as Murray broke again for 4-1 on his way to securing his 199th Grand Slam match win.

Murray faces a tougher test in the second round where he will play fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas or former US Open winner Dominic Thiem, who were unable to finish their match due to the rain.

“I’m playing well enough to beat most of the players in the draw if I play well,” said Murray.

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“Physically, I feel absolutely fine right now.”


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TAGS: Andy Murray, Wimbledon

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