Nino Severino: Those who criticised Andy Murray for emotional press conference know nothing about sport
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In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses Andy Murray's emotional announcement that he will have to retire from tennis due to injury - and hits back at those who criticised his tears.
I’m sure you’ve seen the video. Sir Andy Murray, arguably our greatest-ever athlete, announced that he will be retiring from the sport he’s given so much to this week, and it was an emotional press conference.
I am proud to say that I was part of the British tennis team which included him, and I had the privilege of working on the world tennis tour, which gave me some incredible experiences, including working alongside Andy.
I had the joy of watching him prepare, train and compete on the world tour, including at all four Grand Slams over eight years, and I have the upmost respect for him, both as an athlete, and a man.
He carries himself with dignity, and has represented Britain in the best way possible, committing to his sport, playing and beating the best in the world, and giving us the pride of knowing we had one of the best tennis players to have ever played the game.
I was very upset to have been told that some comments on social media about Andy have not been so supportive, criticising him for crying while he announced to the world that he would be retiring.
All I can say is that these individuals can know nothing about sport, and what it means to the athletes that literally give their lives to it. From a very young age Andy would have been dreaming of greatness, and committed many years to gruelling training regimes that made him a good enough player to get onto the junior European circuit.
Here as a young tennis player, he shared this environment with the other future legends of the tennis world, players such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and together as young developing players they honed their craft, a craft that would take them all to legendary status.
How could they have known then, as players aged 11 and 12 that, against each other, they would give the world some of the best matches in tennis history?
So, when these individuals make heartless comments on social media, they do so not knowing the facts – and the facts are, Andy has given his life to the sport of tennis, he has been “dreaming big” from a very young age, growing up with other legends of the tennis world, and sharing a very special environment.
This has been his life, a life that is so deeply ingrained in the players, a life that he clearly loves.
We also have to take into account that he is part of tennis history, playing alongside – and beating – some of the greatest players that have ever lived in Roger Federer, Djokovic and Nadal.
So Andy was not simply crying because he now may be forced to leave tennis – it’s so much bigger than that.
He has to walk away from a life where he was playing his part in sporting history, a life that involved some of the greatest players of all time, who also happened to be some of his greatest friends, and of course, say goodbye to the hopes and dreams which were within his grasp.
It’s no wonder Andy cried!
One of my favourite memories of him was when Elena and I were at Wimbledon, during the championships. After training and matches all the players have access to the physiotherapist and massage area, which is underneath the players’ lounge and restaurant area.
Elena was feeling a bit sore and wanted to see the physio so we booked our slot, had something to eat and made our way down to the medical room which had three beds available for players, with enough room for the physios to work and a coach to accompany them.
When we entered there were two of the best male players in the world occupying two of the beds – the furthest bed was taken by the top 10 Spanish warrior David Ferrer, while the middle bed was taken by Andy, who was accompanied by his then long-time fitness coach Jez Green.
Elena knew Andy very well, they had a very good relationship – as youngsters they grew up learning tennis together in Scotland.
She settled down and immediately just started chatting to Andy, while I started a conversation with Jez, where we moved onto the subject of cage fighting.
As we were chatting, I could see Andy getting interested in our conversation, and there was a good reason for this – he loves the sport of boxing, and fighting as a whole.
Before long we were all talking about it – Andy is well informed when it comes to fighting, so the conversation was excellent, with lots of fun banter.
It was one of those life experiences I suppose many would pay a fortune for!