SIR ANDY MURRAY has said he’s ‘very touched’ by the support he has received today following his announcement that he plans to retire this year.
The two-time Wimbledon champion posted a picture of himself with his mother Judy, writing: ‘Best way to feel better after a tough day is a big cuddle from your mum.
He added: ‘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.’
The 31-year-old had earlier broken down in tears as he told a news conference he was struggling to play through the pain following surgery on his hip last year.
The former world number one, who is now ranked 230th in the world, has been battling to recover from a chronic hip condition but was forced to admit his efforts have not been enough.
‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,’ said the Scot.
‘I want to get to Wimbledon and stop but I’m not certain I can do that.’
Murray is due to play against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday but that may prove to be the final match of his illustrious career.
The three-time Grand-Slam winner added: ‘Obviously I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now.
‘I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads. I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.
‘I’m going to play. 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.’
Murray admitted he is now considering a more ‘severe’ second operation on his hip which will help him improve his quality of life but admitted he was no longer able to compete at the top level of the sport.
He added: ‘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.’
Following his announcement tributes flooded in for the double Olympic medallist, who has enjoyed a glittering 13-year professional career, winning three Grand Slams and helping Great Britain’s Davis Cup team win the trophy for the first time since 1936.
Current British number one tennis star Kyle Edmund said: ‘For me he’s been my biggest role model out of any tennis player. He’s Britain’s greatest tennis player ever and you could say maybe Britain’s best sportsman ever.’
Tennis great Billie Jean King added her tribute, writing on Twitter: ‘You are a champion on and off the court. So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations. Much love to you and your family.’
Edmund and King were two of many former and current players joining fans in offering their best wishes to Murray following his announcement in Melbourne today.
Fan Rob Carless wrote on Facebook: ‘You are a sporting legend who dines on the very top table. You took the baton of Henman and boy, did you run with it. To see you play on Centre Court will live with me and was an honour.’
Mike Smith added: ‘Tough call for you to make Andy but the right one. I have massive respect and admiration for your incredible career. You’re a top bloke too.’
Another fan, Audrey Springham, wrote: ‘All the very best to you Andy you have made your family and country and Scots everywhere and other British too so very proud.’
Tracey Crouch, the UK sports minister when Sir Andy claimed his second Wimbledon title in 2016, said she was ‘sorry’ to hear of his retirement.
She added: ‘He’s such a phenomenal competitor in an era of other great players, a champion for equality in sport and a genuinely nice guy.
‘I think his legacy of inspiring the next generation will live long.’
As well as his glittering tennis career, he was also hailed by Labour MP Jess Phillips for being a ‘normal bloke, and best of all casual feminist’.
His decision to appoint Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014 is considered a groundbreaking moment in the sport.
Questions have been raised over what will come next for Sir Andy, who already acts as an official mentor for young sports men and women through his management company.
The programme even reaches his beloved Hibernian Football Club, where two players are under the Grand Slam winner’s stewardship.
In a tweet from Hibs’ official account, head coach Neil Lennon said: ‘Andy Murray is an inspiration and a role model. He’s been the ideal mentor to Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous.
‘I hope he’s able to finish an incredible career on his terms. Everyone at Hibernian Football Club is rooting for him.’
Meanwhile, Scottish drinks company Irn Bru tweeted its own tribute with an old picture of Sir Andy sipping from a bottle (above) with the simple caption: ‘Here’s to you, @Andy-Murray’.
Sir Andy was hailed as a ‘legend’ by the Scottish first minister after the tennis star announced he will retire this year.
Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘Andy Murray is a legend — without doubt one of Scotland’s greatest ever sportsmen, as well as an outstanding role model and inspiration for young people everywhere.’