On centre court, in front of the Middletons, the Camerons, both Borises, the Beckhams and the leader of Scotland – or, as Sue Barker called him, Sir Alex Ferguson – Andy Murray failed joined the tennis élite.
He, of course, remains in the top four players but hasn’t made his way into the exclusive club: the group of three, the G3, that wins grand slams. Only three players have won a grand slam title since the turn of the decade. At points during that Summer Sunday afternoon, particularly when the sun was out, Murray was shining – he looked on the verge of creating a G4. It didn’t happen but looks as though it might soon.
There is, among the sceptics, a feeling that Andy Murray will never win Wimbledon – perhaps will never win a grand slam at all. We’ve seen Tim Henman meander around his number four ranking, getting so far yet so near. Wild cards like Goran Ivanišević trumped him when titles were there for the taking.
There is hope, though, for Murray. First, he is 25 – the same age as Novak Djokovic. Nadal is 26 and Federer is 30. Time is on his side.
Second, the opposition around him seems to be weakening. As Federer drops away, which the maestro sadly but inevitably must, there will be one less at the top. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were previously imperious. Now they are imperious at times, and there’s a key difference. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and David Ferrer have arrived. But Murray is better. At the moment – and this could change quite quickly – there is no Nadal or Federer Mk II coming through the ranks.
Murray overcame one hurdle this July, winning his first set in a grand slam final. His second obstacle is to win a major title.
As Murray headed to Wimbledon defeat, Sir Jackie Stewart was interviewing racing drivers on the podium at Silverstone after the British Grand Prix. The tartan-clad Stewart, a three-time world drivers’ champion, provided a timely example of a Scottish sporting great for Murray to emulate. To do so he needs to win and win again. The ideal starting place? Wimbledon. The date? Next month. Olympic gold please, Andy.