Grand Slam tennis champion Andy Murray is used to serving up impressive lessons to his opponents on the court. But when it came to home schooling over lockdown, the father-of-three concedes he would have struggled to pick up a gold star for his attempts.
‘I did enjoy it although I discovered I am hopeless at arts and crafts,’ the Scot tells Tatler. ‘I did have my suspicions! It gave me a newfound respect for teachers.’
With the anticipation of Queens and Wimbledon being back in the summer calendar this year, Murray is thankful he can get back to the day job.
It was at Queens in 2019 where he made a glorious comeback, triumphantly winning the men’s doubles with Feliciano Lopez following a hip operation which threatened to cut short his career. Despite announcing he would skip the French Open due to fitness concerns, he is desperate to get back in front of British crowds once again.
‘Queens definitely holds a special place for me. The win with Feliciano meant a lot as it was my first tournament after I had my hip resurfaced so to win there felt pretty amazing – I don’t think anyone, including me, expected that. It will be good to get back.’
It is Wimbledon, the most British of sporting events in the summer season, that he still holds dear to his heart. He was after all the first British winner there in 77 years when he beat Djokovic in the 2013 final, then went on to do it again in 2016.
‘There is something very special about the club itself and there is normally a real atmosphere of excitement at the tournament which you feel as soon as you walk through the gates,’ he says. With capacity at about 30 per cent less than normal, he’s aware this year will feel ‘quite different’.
‘At first, I didn’t mind playing in empty stadiums, because I was just pumped to be back on court. But as the weeks have gone on, I’ve started to miss the atmosphere and I definitely feed off that during my matches. The crowd can really lift you, and that’s obviously particularly the case when I’m playing in the UK.
‘But I think all the players will be happy just to be back at Wimbledon and able to compete again.’
There was no relaxing banana bread baking for Murray over lockdown. After the birth of his son Teddy at the end of 2019, he was hands on helping wife Kim with the night feeds (‘being home with my family was a real silver lining’), training in the back garden – all alongside dealing with the furlough fallout of the Cromlix Hotel he owns in his hometown of Dunblane.
In 2013 he snapped up the stunning grey-stone Victorian mansion with 34 acres of grounds and was instrumental in its transformation into a luxury hotel and restaurant overseen by Michel Roux Jr.
‘Cromlix was a special project because the hotel meant a lot to my family and I wanted to be able to keep it as a thriving business for the Dunblane area. It’s been difficult for the hospitality industry everywhere in the last twelve months. Cromlix has reopened and had a couple of weddings already and we’ve had lots of overnight bookings, afternoon teas and dinners. I know everyone that works at the hotel was really pleased to get back to normal and we hope we don’t have to shut again.’
WhatsApp and Zoom became Murray’s saviour over lockdown as he kept in touch with his fellow players to keep morale high as the tennis schedule was thrown into turmoil.
But he admits his mum Judy Murray found the physical separation tough.
‘I’m fairly used to not seeing my mum and my brother that much face-to-face anyway because in a normal year we’d all be travelling so much. We usually chat on the phone or WhatsApp and I speak to my brother most days.
‘I think it’s been hard for my Mum not being able to see her grandchildren. I’m glad things are opening up a bit now and once we are all vaccinated everything should get a lot easier.’
So what next for one of Britain’s greatest sportsmen? After pocketing another historical sporting first by being the first Brit to win gold in the 2012 Olympics in London and Rio for the mens singles, his sights are on for a repeat performance at Tokyo.
‘I have always loved being part of the Olympics and playing as part of the British team, so I’m excited to get out there.’
For further information about Andy Murray’s hotel, Cromlix, in Dunblane visit cromlix.com
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