Andy Murray has described tennis as an “escape” in a new documentary on his comeback from injury and referenced the trauma he suffered after the Dunblane school massacre.
He and his brother Jamie were present during the 1996 incident at Dunblane Primary School where Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and a teacher before shooting himself.
During the Premiere of ‘Andy Murray: Resurfacing’ – which will be available on Amazon Prime Video from November 29 – the former world number one explained to the documentary’s director Olivia Cappuccini why he is so determined to continue playing the sport he loves.
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In a voice note to Cappuccini, Murray said: “You asked me a while ago why tennis was important to me. I had the thing that happened at Dunblane, when I was around nine.
“I am sure for all the kids there it would be difficult for different reasons. The fact we knew the guy, we went to his kids’ club, he had been in our car, we had driven and dropped him off at train stations and things.
“Within 12 months of that happening, our parents got divorced. It was a difficult time. To see that and not quite understand what is going on.
“And then six to 12 months after that, my brother also moved away from home. He went away to train to play tennis. We obviously used to do everything together. When he moved away that was also quite hard for me.
“Around that time and after that, for a year or so, I had lots of anxiety that came out when I was playing tennis. When I was competing I would get really bad breathing problems.
“My feeling towards tennis is that it’s an escape for me in some ways because all of these things are stuff that I have bottled up. I don’t know because we don’t talk about these things. They are not things that are discussed.
“The way that I am, on the tennis court, I show some positive things about my personality and I also show the bad things and things I really hate. Tennis allows me to be that child, that has all of these questions, and that’s why tennis is important to me.”
The documentary showed the career-saving hip surgery Murray had in January 2019 and charted his journey from a year earlier when he initially had an operation on his hip.
The two-time Wimbledon winner recently stepped up his return to tennis by winning the European Open in Antwerp.
However, weeks before the success over Stan Wawrinka, Murray had been thinking about retirement again before he started to notice a change during tournaments in Zhuhai, Beijing and Shanghai during September.
“Asia was basically where I started to realise I can do this because at the beginning of that trip, literally two or three days before the first tournament in Asia, I was having conversations with my team,” he said.
“I was practising and I was like: ‘No, I am giving this until the end of the year and if I’m not winning matches and feeling better than I am now, I don’t want to keep going’.
“I was putting a lot of effort in but my movement wasn’t at the right level, but as I started to play quite a few matches it changed quite quickly and I thought I was a lot further away than I was and that was what a lot of guys in the team were saying to me.
“They were saying: ‘You are much closer than you think’ and I won a few matches, started to feel better and maybe as well I gained more confidence in my hip. I stopped thinking about it in matches – which was quite a big step.
“At the beginning you are thinking about it after every movement you make and that is not a good way to go into competing but now I am not thinking about it when I’m playing.”