2012 was a breakthrough year for Andy Murray. He became an Olympic gold medalist and won his first Grand Slam – the first won by a British male since 1936. His success didn’t come over night though. Any keen tennis observer has seen the development of Murray, the highs and the lows his career has gone through and the struggle he has had in making the Grand Slam breakthrough. Murray has been placed under immense pressure as the only world-class British male tennis player.
Sports are universal, not just in the way that no language is needed to understand a game or event, but also in the that an athlete’s struggle symbolizes the challenges that all of us go through in life. So while watching Murray’s transformation, here are ten life lessons we can learn from his journey to greatness.
Not many people know this, but Andy Murray was in school at the time of the Dunblane school massacre -when a lone gunman killed 15 children and one teacher. He rarely speaks about it but has stated it was a very traumatic experience – the gunman actually rode in the car with Murray and his mother not long before the shooting. Such a childhood experience can ruin a life. Andy Murray is proof of the importance of a strong support network. His ability to cope with a childhood trauma makes him a true inspiration.
Andy Murray is known for his ruthlessness with coaches. He is just well aware of himself and knows when something is not working. He fired his first coach Mark Petchey who guided him into the Top 50 because he believed he had taken him as far as he could. After he lost his second Grand Slam he fired his coach Miles Mclagan because he believed he couldn’t help him get the win. In life sometimes we have to brave in pursuit of our goals. So if someone is hindering your progress you can’t be afraid to let them know.
Andy Murray moved to Spain to join a tennis academy when he was just 15. Leaving behind his hometown, his friends and his family and moving to a foreign country with a different language would be terrifying for most people. His willingness to do what needed to be done to pursue his dream is something we can all learn from. There is no doubt if Murray hadn’t moved outside his comfort zone he would not be where he is today.
Andy Murray’s ability to chase down even the hardest of shot is what he is known for on tour. He never gives up on a point. You have to beat him. This mindset is what has led to players as skilled as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to label Murray a ‘nightmare’ to play against and the opponent he hates playing the most. We can only lose if we give up right?
Andy Murray was known to have a bad temper on court and has smashed one or two rackets in his time. Many people believed his outbursts held him back from making it to the very top and gave the example of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two of the best players who rarely ever lose there cool. Andy Murray has learned these lessons over the years and the player we see today is one who channels his emotion into great tennis.
Though Andy Murray had many good coaches, there was always the feeling that he didn’t quite respect them as much because they were not Grand Slam winners when they played or hadn’t coached that many great players. Murray’s current coach Ivan Lendl was a multiple Grand Slam winner in the 80’s and was known by all as an out and out winner. When the two partnered, the respect was immediately there. With Lendl as his coach and mentor, Andy Murray has been able to finally break the Grand Slam barrier. This is the perfect example of the importance of someone older and more experienced helping you achieve your goals.
Andy Murray was frequently criticized in the press as being bland and boring in interviews. This may have started to irritate people and make them change how they present themselves, but Murray has maintained his personality, and continued to open up. Murray cried after losing the 2012 Wimbledon Final to Roger Federer and many people began to see Murray as someone who really wanted to win. Coincidentally or not, he then went on to win the gold at the Olympics and the US Open.
Unfortunately for Andy Murray, two of the other three best payers in the world are around the same age as him (Andy Murray is 25, Djokovic is 25, Nadal is 26). Thus their success must have grated him as he saw them win Grand Slam after Grand Slam as he struggled to break the duck. However, Murray stayed consistent in improving his game and not getting caught up in the comparisons. The results are there for us all to see. The significance of running your own marathon and not getting caught up with everyone else’s is shown in Murray’s success.
Many players may have dropped their level after losing three Grand Slam finals. Indeed many players only get to one and never get to another during their career. For Murray to keep plugging away demonstrates the importance of perseverance. Success is a long process – much too long for many people. Remember the sunshine comes after the rain, but the storm may last a lot longer than you thought at the start.
Overall the lesson is really one of perseverance. An easy word to say, much harder to do. We all get down, have our doubts and even outright quit when things get hard. Andy Murray has shown the longer you stick at it, the sweeter the success when it finally comes. That is something that should drive us on when times get hard.