Pundit? Tech investor? Politician? What next for Andy Murray?

Sean Ingle
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Andy Murray appeared to be a natural in his stint in the BBC commentary box alongside Andrew Cotter at Wimbledon last year.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Steven Paston/PA</span>
Andy Murray appeared to be a natural in his stint in the BBC commentary box alongside Andrew Cotter at Wimbledon last year. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

It is almost 14 years since Andy Murray’s grand slam career began against George Bastl on Wimbledon’s old No 2 Court, known as the graveyard of champions. Soon, following all the tears and tributes, the glorious career of Britain’s greatest tennis player will also be laid to rest and he will have to work out what to do next. Pundit? Commentator? Tech investor? Perhaps even politician?

Mark Borkowski, a PR expert who has worked with Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and a host of other stars and brands, believes Murray’s options are vast. “There is almost nothing he couldn’t do next,” he says.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

“What we look for in PR these days is authenticity and raw emotion, and Murray has got that in droves. Sponsors will be salivating at having him because he is so open and honest and because he is an inspiration to so many people.”

For more than a decade Murray had a preternatural desire to be the best player in the world. Then, after his hip injury in 2017, his drive switched to returning to the sport he loves. A big issue will be how he copes with losing his primary reason to get up in the morning.

André Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at the Cass Business School, says: “During their successful years, sports stars invest heavily in their identity as high performers and often neglect other sides of themselves. That means when they quit they have no other identity to fall back on.”

That cannot be said about Murray. There has long been the sense that he has been anticipating a second career, away from the courts and sweaty locker rooms.

In 2013 he set up his sports management consultancy 77 with his business advisers Matt Gentry and Gawain Davies. Among others, he represents and mentors the teenagers Aidan McHugh and Katie Swan who are tipped to be the next generation of British tennis talent.

He is accessible, a vigorous supporter of women’s rights and has a dry sense of humour so I could see him as politician.

Mark Borkowski

Murray also has a keen interest in technology and in 2015 partnered with crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Last year he told Forbes that he has stakes in more than 30 ventures, the latest of which is Deuce, a mobile app that helps tennis players find courts and coaching sessions around the UK, making it easier and more affordable to find a game.

An obvious next step would be to step in front of the camera, following in the footsteps of Tim Henman and Gary Lineker. Murray certainly looked a natural as a pundit during last year’s Wimbledon, not only forthright and wise but witty with it. He also excelled as a co-commentator during Rafael Nadal’s epic quarter-final with Juan Martín del Petro, although few would have watched it given England were playing Croatia in a World Cup semi-final at the same time.

There is certainly scope for Murray to be tennis’s answer to Gary Neville, although he has no great desire to be in front of the camera and is likely to dip in and out rather than make it a full-time job.

Whatever happens next Murray’s finances are rosy. According to Forbes magazine, he will finish his career with at least £128m in career earnings, including £48m in prize money and nearly £80m in earnings from appearance fees, bonuses and endorsements from blue-chip companies such as Under Armour, Head and Jaguar.

While those numbers will obviously take a hit, retirement does not always mean a steep loss of earnings. The heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, for instance, made £4.2m in 2017 – a year after she retired – compared to £3.5m in 2016 when she won an Olympic silver medal.

It would be no surprise to see Murray occasionally get involved in sports politics. Given his dedication to Team GB it is understood that the British Olympic Association is keen to formally harness his ambassadorial support since it has seen at first-hand his ability to inspire athletes and the public.

Borkowski, meanwhile, believes that Murray would be a natural politician. The fact he is a three-times winner of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award also shows he has plenty of support among the public.

“Murray is accessible, is a vigorous supporter of women’s rights and has a dry sense of humour so I could certainly see him as politician,” he adds. “The fact that he is a little unpolished – and he says things as they are – is no bad thing either.”

Long before then there is likely to be a trip to Buckingham Palace to have his OBE formally upgraded to the knighthood that was bestowed on him two years ago. And in the coming years it would be no surprise if he replaced Leon Smith as Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain. But whatever happens next, Murray will remain a compelling, and vital, figure in the British sporting landscape.

What to read next