The last time a British man won Wimbledon, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was campaigning to be reelected for his second term as U.S. President, and Jim Henson was still more than two months away from his birth.
Since Fred Perry‘s win in 1936, British tennis fans had been tormented by close calls from the likes of Tim Henman at The All England Club, which had to make them wonder if they would ever see a British champion again.
For 77 years this torment of having to wait until next year ate at a nation that is so passionate about their tennis. That was until Sunday.
Scotland’s Andy Murray finally let Great Britain breathe once again, and celebrate one of their own as Wimbledon Champion with his straight-set 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
“I understand how much everyone wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon so I hope you enjoyed it,” Murray said to the British crowd afterwards. “I tried my best.”
He certainly did try his best on Sunday as he was tested from the get go by Djokovic. It may have been a 3-set match, but it was one of the most physical and competitive three setters that one will ever see. For three hours and nine minutes, the top two men’s tennis players in the world battled it out on Centre Court, and it all culminated in a wild final game.
Murray had been trailing 4-2 in the third set, but he was able to come back to win three-straight games including two breaks of service to earn a chance to serve for the championship. Murray looked like a man destined to break the British curse as he cruised to a 40-0 lead and had three championship points. But Djokovic made Great Britain wait a while longer, as he forced a deuce and had three break point opportunities to boot. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to convert on any of his breaks, and Murray took full advantage of Djokovic’s inability to extend the match.
After it was all over, Murray was seemingly in shock and couldn’t remember what happened on match point when he was asked to describe it in front of a crowd of 15,000 fans. When he spoke with the media later, though, he said, “That last game I think will be the toughest game I play in my career. Ever.”
The last time that Murray spoke to the crowd at Centre Court was after a devastating championship loss against Roger Federer just one year ago. Murray won the first set in that match but dropped the next three. After the loss, he was in tears as he spoke to the British crowd who were coming to terms with another year of waiting for a British champ. Although the loss was tough for him, he knew how tough it was for his country.
He made up for it a month later when he won Olympic gold right back at Centre Court during the 2012 London Olympics, and he then went on to win his first Grand Slam the next month at the U.S. Open.
And now a year later, those tears of disappointment turned into tears of joy for the man who brought the Wimbledon title back home.
So, go ahead and exhale, Great Britain and have a brew at the local pub back in Scotland, because Andy Murray is the 2013 Wimbledon Champion.