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ANDY MURRAY ended an emotional day with a hug from mother Judy as he thanked wellwishers for their messages of support following his announcement of his plans to retire.
The tennis world has been paying tribute to three-time grand slam winner Murray after he revealed yesterday that he will hang up his raquet after this year’s Wimbledon.
The 31-year-old Scot also admitted his chronic hip condition means he might not even make it to the scene of his greatest triumphs and that next week’s Australian Open could be the final tournament of his career.
Top-ranked British players Kyle Edmund and Johanna Konta led the tributes along with Murray’s rivals, and friends, such as Grigor Dimitrov, Juan Martin Del Potro and Nick Kyrgios.
Sharing a photo of himself with Judy Murray, the former world No 1 wrote on Instagram: “Best way to feel better after a tough day is a big cuddle from your mum.
“Genuinely been very touched by all of the messages and support from everybody today. It means a lot and has made me feel much more positive than when I woke this morning. Thank you so much.”
Murray’s smile was in sharp contrast to a few hours earlier, when he was on the verge of tears as he entered the press room and, asked how his hip was feeling, managed to say “not great” before being overcome by his emotions and having to leave.
He returned after several minutes to deliver his devastating news.
Murray will contest his first-round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday but that may prove to be the final match of his illustrious career.
“I’m going to play,” he said. “I can still play to a level. Not a level that I’m happy playing at. But it’s not just that. The pain is too much really and I don’t want to continue playing that way.
“During my training block [in Miami last month] I spoke to my team and told them I can’t keep doing this. I needed to have an end point because I was sort of playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop.
“I said to my team, look I think I can get through this until Wimbledon. That’s where I’d like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
After another pause while Murray sat with his head on the desk, he was asked whether this might be his last tournament.
“Yes I think there’s a chance of that for sure because I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,” he said.
Edmund, who replaced Murray as British No 1, called the two-time Wimbledon champion his “biggest role model,” while Konta said: “I can’t imagine the sport without him to be honest.”
Bulgarian former world No 3 Dimitrov posted a picture of himself and Murray at the net prior to a match at Wimbledon and wrote: “Tennis will come to an end for us all but the friendships will last a lifetime.
“What you’ve done for the sport will live on forever. I’m hoping for a strong and healthy finish for you, my friend!”
Del Potro, who returned to the top echelons of the sport after his own lengthy battles with injury, wrote: “Andy, just watched your conference. Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting.
“I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well.”
Kyrgios, the colourful Australian who struck up a somewhat unlikely friendship with Murray, paid an emotional tribute on Instagram, saying: “Andy, I know you take me for a joker most of the time, but at least hear me out on this one old friend.
“You are one crazy tennis player, miles better than me, but I just want you to know that today isn’t only a sad day for you and your team, it’s a sad day for the sport and for everyone you’ve had an impact on.”
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