Andy Murray honoured on Centre Court as he nears end of Wimbledon career

A tearful Andy Murray was honoured on Centre Court in one of the final moments of his Wimbledon career.

The 37-year-old was given a hero’s reception as he began his last appearance alongside his brother Jamie in the men’s doubles but the pair were beaten by Rinky Hijikata and John Peers.

Murray still has mixed doubles to come with Emma Raducanu but the All England Club took the opportunity to celebrate his historic career.

Loud cheers greeted the return to Centre Court of Sue Barker along with greats of the game like John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Murray’s great rival Novak Djokovic.

But the loudest ovation was, of course, reserved for Murray, who could not hold back the tears after a video montage telling the story of his career, with contributions from Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, played on the screens.

Looking back through the memories with Barker, he said: “I’ll try and keep it quick, two of my kids are up there and it’s way past their bedtime.”

Andy Murray with Sue Barker
Andy Murray with Sue Barker (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Murray described his Olympic gold medal in 2012 as “one of my favourite days I’ve ever had,” and said sarcastically of his rivalry with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer: “They were all right weren’t they?”

Of his era-defining 2013 success, he said: “I did find it pretty stressful, it wasn’t easy.” He made sure he celebrated fully in 2016, admitting that he vomited in a taxi on the way home.

There were oohs from the crowd when Murray said he would like to come back in “a coaching box” rather than sitting in the Royal Box, while he choked up again talking about his family and his team.

Andy Murray gives a thumbs up to fans
Andy Murray gives a thumbs up to fans (Zac Goodwin/PA)

His two oldest daughters, eight-year-old Sophia and six-year-old Edie, made their first appearance in the courtside box, and Murray said of his four children: “They’ve been waking me and my wife up at 5am for the last eight years so they’ll continue doing that.

“They were requesting piggybacks the day after my back surgery. Obviously they’ve been amazing, I really look forward to spending more time at home.

“I’ve had some amazing people working with me over the years. The last few years have been hard for me but I think hard for them.

“It has obviously been hard for all of us. The injuries have been tough, quite significant injuries and we’ve worked extremely hard just to be on the court competing. Probably not at the level any of us wanted, but we tried.

“Look it is hard because I would love to keep playing but I can’t. Physically it is too tough now, all of the injuries, they have added up and they haven’t been insignificant.

“I want to play forever, I love the sport and it’s given me so much. It’s taught me loads of lessons over the years I can use for the rest of my life. I don’t want to stop so it is hard.”

Andy Murray celebrates winning a point in trademark fashion
Andy Murray celebrates winning a point in trademark fashion (Mike Egerton/PA)

Murray also recounted his early days with his wife Kim when he was a teenager, saying: “The first match she came to watch of me live was at the US Open and I vomited twice in that match, once right in front of where she was sitting.

“I then stood up and vomited on my opponent’s racket bag. And she still seemed to like me so I knew she was a keeper.

Kim, second left, and Judy Murray, right, were there to support along with Andy Murray's oldest two daughters
Kim, second left, and Judy Murray, right, were there to support along with Andy Murray’s oldest two daughters (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

“She’s been an amazing support to me, to my whole family, is the best mum and unfortunately in a couple of months she’s going to have see me every day so things might be rocky for a little while but hopefully we can stick it out together and I’m looking forward to the rest of our lives.”

As the crowd roared their appreciation, Murray embraced all the players and former players who had come out to give him a send-off before sharing a long embrace with Jamie and leaving the stage.

In a video published by Wimbledon earlier, Murray was filmed writing a postcard to himself as a wild-haired teenager about to make his first appearance.

“Number one: Get a haircut. Number two: Get some clothes that fit. And three: Try to enjoy it, it will be gone before you know it,” he wrote.

Nearly 20 years later, Murray’s final rodeo on the most important stage of all has arrived. Denied the chance to play singles by his troublesome back, the Scot fittingly signed up for a fraternal pairing before adding mixed doubles.

The excitement fizzing around Centre Court was reminiscent of the atmosphere before a final rather than a first-round doubles match, which are usually relegated to the outside courts in the gloaming.

Andy Murray is applauded off Centre Court
Andy Murray is applauded off Centre Court (John Walton/PA)

As the doors opened to welcome the players on to the court, the packed crowd rose together to acclaim the two-time singles champion.

The tennis seemed almost incidental, but it would go against everything that has made Andy so loved and respected if his main priority was not trying to win the match.

He gave it his best shot but it was clear early on that he was not in good physical shape and, although the brothers had a set point in the first-set tie-break and were a break up in the second, they fell to a 7-6 (6) 6-4 defeat.