Andy Murray gets the award for athletic demons conquered now that he has won Wimbledon. The fans were so eager to see him become the first male Brit to capture the title in 77 years that in the final games, they started disruptively cheering in the middle of key points, as if they could will out every ball hit by Novak Djokovic, Murray’s worthy opponent. As a tennis head case myself, plus a crier, I have been rooting for Murray since his loss to Roger Federer last year, when he famously came undone and tearily choked out, “I’m getting closer,” while Federer looked on with his usual impeccable composure. This time, Murray said, with what sounded like sincere humility, “That win was for myself, but I also understand how much everyone else wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon. I hope you guys enjoyed it. I tried my best.”
Sob. After Murray won match point, all I wanted the camera to do was to pan to Murray’s mother, Judy Murray. Throughout the match, she won me over with her expression of deep concentration as she watched her son play the most important match of his life. When her son forgot to hug her in his post-win leap into the stands, Judy Murray was unfazed. Murray kissed his girlfriend first—good priority—and then turned his back before, he said he heard his mother behind him. “I did forget her. I just heard her squealing behind me when I was trying to get down,” he said afterward.
Judy Murray has just let herself go gray at 53, and in a simple white shirt and little pearl earrings, she looked like a real Scottish mum in the stands, not a self-conscious celebrity. (She saved the dress up for later last night.) Murray has famously given herself to her son’s tennis, coaching him through childhood. She says her marriage broke up because of the travel and that she raised Andy and his brother, Jamie, without a lot of money in the Scottish town of Dunblane. A former professional player herself, Murray now coaches the British Fed Cup team. “I was an emotional wreck,” she said about the match, before bringing the focus back to her son. “This is what he has talked about winning since he was a little boy.”
Tennis parents often have a well-earned bad rap for being pushy and impossible, and Judy Murray once earned the nickname “Spy Mum” for videotaping one of Murray’s opponents. But it’s hard to imagine an athlete—or a family—under more pressure to uphold the national honor than this one. On Sunday, they came through, and you could only wish them all the relief and release that brings.
Correction, July 8, 2013: This post originally stated that Andy Murray was the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years. While Murray is the first British man to win the title in 77 years, Virginia Wade won the women’s singles title in 1977.