Andy Murray withdraws from singles, just over a week after back surgery

I wanted to have a chance to go out there and walk out on my own on Centre Court again, Andy Murray said

Published - July 02, 2024 11:18 pm IST - LONDON

Andy Murray of Great Britain leaves the practice court during day two of The Championships Wimbledon 2024 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 02, 2024 in London, England.

Andy Murray of Great Britain leaves the practice court during day two of The Championships Wimbledon 2024 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 02, 2024 in London, England. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Andy Murray withdrew from singles at Wimbledon a little more than a week after surgery to remove a cyst from his spine, and the two-time men's champion at the All England Club said he would make his farewell appearance at the tournament by playing doubles with his older brother, Jamie.

“I’m disappointed. I wanted to play in the tournament, and I wanted to have a chance to go out there and walk out on my own on Centre Court again and give it another go. But I also was only going to do that if I felt like I could be competitive. And I didn’t feel like that today,” Murray said.

“I’m sorry, obviously, for everyone that came and wanted to support and watch again. And I wanted that moment, as well, as much for me as for the people that have supported me over the years. The fans, but also my closest friends, family, my team. It was important for me to do that with them, as well,” he said. “It’s one of those things. Unfortunate. The timing was horrible. The surgery was a complex one. It wasn’t to be.”

The 37-year-old Murray — who has been planning to retire after the Paris Olympics, which start later this month — was supposed to face Tomas Machac at Centre Court on Tuesday in the first round of singles. Murray was replaced in the bracket by David Goffin, who lost during qualifying rounds last week.

Murray won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016; the first of those made him the first British men's singles champion at the tournament in 77 years, and he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II after the second title.

He said over the weekend that he was hoping for “maybe a bit of closure” by getting one more chance to "feel that buzz” of playing at Centre Court before the end of his career.

He won the U.S. Open in 2012, made it to No. 1 in the ATP rankings and is the only player to win two consecutive singles gold medals at an Olympics. Those titles came at London in 2012 — when the matches held were at the All England Club — and at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Murray came along during an era of unprecedented excellence in men's tennis, dominated by the Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. That trio has combined for 66 Grand Slam titles — led by the 24 for Djokovic, who was born a week after Murray in May 1987 — and swapped the top ranking for years, but Murray managed to elbow his way in, eventually.

Murray enjoyed success on the court and popularity off it

A grinding game style, mainly at the baseline, superb serve returning and an unrelenting attitude that propelled Murray to success on the court and popularity off it. He has been an advocate for women in the sport, including hiring Amelie Mauresmo as his coach — a rare instance of a top male player working with a female coach — and never been shy about voicing his opinions on various issues.

In recent years, his career has been marked by a series of injuries, and he had a pair of hip operations in 2018 and 2019, the second of which implanted a metal joint. Murray thought he would need to retire back then, but returned to action, even as his mobility was limited and other parts of his body broke down.

During a second-round match at the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club in London last month, Murray stopped playing because he was having trouble walking. He later explained that a cyst was compressing a nerve in his back and leaving his right leg numb, and he had surgery on June 22.

Murray had been training in recent days at the All England Club and undergoing medical tests to see whether he would be able to compete one last time at the tournament that has defined his career.

“This is a place," Murray said Sunday, “that’s obviously been really good to me over the years.”

But on Tuesday, after practicing alongside his brother, a two-time Grand Slam champion in men's doubles, Murray said he determined that “it’s probably a few days to soon” to try to play singles.

“I’ve given a lot to give myself the opportunity to play here,” he said. “The singles was always going to be a big ask.”

With less movement required in doubles, he figures that is something he can do, and called it “special” to play together with his sibling at Wimbledon for the first time.

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