Andy Murray struggled to contain his emotions after he met former Iranian prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s and heard her recall her “incredible” story of watching his 2016 Wimbledon triumph in solitary confinement.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned in Iran for six years until her release earlier this year, having been accused of spying, a charge she and the UK denied.
She was asked to guest edit BBC Radio 4’s Today programme during the festive period and Murray was one of her guests with the episode broadcast on Wednesday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe recalled how she was given access to a TV with two channels in 2016 and matches at that year’s Wimbledon were shown with Murray triumphing at the All England Club after he beat Milos Raonic in the final.
“I think what you’ve told me is by far the strangest, most incredible story that I have been told about someone watching me. Nothing has come close to that, so that’s incredible,” Murray told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We all have our own problems, but after listening to you and speaking to you I’ll certainly make sure I’m a lot more grateful for everything that I’ve got.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe revealed watching Murray’s victory was “joyful” and made her “ecstatic” a couple of months on from her initially being detained in Iran.
“I was always a big fan of you, but also there I was in solitary confinement watching the match that you actually won in the end,” she told Murray. “I can’t tell you how joyful it was and I was ecstatic just to see you win.”
She had vowed to email Murray on her release and hoped to find tickets to watch the following year’s final, but she was still held for many more, painful months.
Later, after having been moved out of solitary confinement, Nazanin taught other inmates Murray’s name and the story of his tournament victory.
“It felt like a connection, it felt like escape,” she said. “I was close to home all of a sudden.”
Murray also asked Nazanin about her experience, as he suggested she was at ease with her ordeal.
“I would be interested to hear how you feel about it all,” said the Scot.
“You seem absolutely fine now, but I’m thinking if I was in that situation or someone that I knew was in that situation, that I would feel very angry about that,” he said.
Nazanin offered up this response: “At times I do feel very angry, but I guess there was a point that I decided I should put the anger away and to not carry it with me, because otherwise it will eat me up for the rest of my life.”
“When I came out, there were times that I felt like I really missed my friends and missed prison. It’s a very odd thing to say.
“I don’t know whether people actually can say that you miss prison, but I sometimes think that I miss the environment and my friendships in prison.”
Murray is set to arrive in Australia imminently as he prepares to play at the Australian Open once again.
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