In troubled times for Britain, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory will soothe nerves

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Tragedy is a bigger English pastime than high tea or fish and chips. No one does sadness better than the people on the British Isles – be it for their miserable weather or the perennially disappointing national football team. Andy Murray needs a lot of credit for transforming himself into a battle-hardened winner, despite the heavy cultural baggage of the society around him. As Sean Engle points out in The Guardian, Murray is now the fourth king of an era enriched by an insanely brilliant collection of gladiators. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic may have established a brutal hegemony over tennis, but the only man to have consistently challenged them has been Murray. If Murray was a boxer, he would have stood firm for 12 rounds, taking punches on his chin before going at his opponent looking for more. He has suffered eight defeats in ten finals to Federer and Djokovic, but never let that affect the dogged spirit that took root deep inside his psyche. Murray was coming off a fifth defeat in an Australian Open final and another major disappointment in that French Open final loss, again to Djokovic. For the first time, he was facing a player not named Federer or Djokovic in a grand slam final. And Murray showed great poise, playing with evident purpose to subdue an exuberant Milos Raonic and clinching a second Wimbledon title. There are unique pressures on a British man playing Wimbledon. The baggage of a historic 77-year void was wiped away in 2013, but the expectations are sky high every time Murray steps on the grass at SW19. This pressure is not an easy thing to deal with, especially for a nation that is short on winners. There is also the nuanced rivalry and fragile union between England and Scotland, though Murray competes under a British identity. It is a complex concoction of factors that make Murray’s triumphant journey uniquely poignant.
At 29, Murray has borne the brunt of having to play in an era of abundance. Ordinary mortals may have resigned themselves to fate if they endured as many losses as has Murray at the hands of the three other players who define this prolific generation for tennis.

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