An emotional Andy Murray broke down during his pre-Australian Open press conference on Friday morning as he announced he’d be retiring from tennis, no later than Wimbledon this year.
The former world No. 1, who had surgery in Melbourne 12 months ago, admits the pain he feels in his hip “is too much” and that the Australian Open – which begins on Monday – could very much be the last tournament of his career.
Murray broke into tears at the start of his press conference and left the room before returning to take questions from the press.
“Not feeling good. Obviously been struggling for a long time. Been in a lot of pain for probably 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,” said the 31-year-old Scot.
Murray plans on playing his Australian Open first round against Roberto Bautista Agut but is unsure about anything beyond that.
“I can still play to a level, not a level that I’m happy playing at but also it’s not just that. The pain is too much really, it’s not something that I want to – I don’t want to continue playing that way,” he explained.
“Like I said, I’ve tried pretty much everything that I could to get right and that hasn’t worked. My plan kind of middle to end of December during my training block, I spoke to my team and I told them I can’t keep doing this. I needed to have like an end point because just playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop and I felt like making that decision, I said to my team, ‘I think I can kind of get through this until Wimbledon, that’s where I’d like to stop playing’, but also I’m not certain I’m able to do that,” Murray added before tearing up again.
Murray concedes that “there’s a chance” that Melbourne would be his last tournament as he feels unsure he could withstand playing through the pain for another five months until Wimbledon, where he has triumphed twice, ending Great Britain’s 77-year men’s singles title drought at the event.
The three-time major champion is considering having another surgery to resurface his hip but he would not be doing it with the intention to return to professional tennis.
“It will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain and that’s something I’m seriously considering right now. Some athletes have had that and gone back to competing but there’s obviously no guarantees with that. The reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sport, it’s for a better quality of life,” said Murray.
“For myself mainly. There’s lots of little things that, obviously you guys see me running around the tennis court and walking between points and I know it doesn’t look good and it doesn’t look good and it doesn’t look comfortable but there’s little things like day to day that are also a struggle. It would e nice to be able to do them without any pain. Putting shoes on, socks on, things like that. So that’s the main reason for doing it.
Murray has been dealing with hip pain for many years but says his French Open semifinal against Stan Wawrinka in 2017 “pushed it over the edge”.
“It just got to a level where I didn’t recover from that match,” he says.
“And having the operation was hopefully to make it as good as possible and it didn’t help with the pain at all and that’s the thing I’ve been struggling with, the walking and the certain things on the court that I can’t really do properly now, but the pain is the driving factor because I can play with limitations, that’s not an issue, it’s having the limitations and then also the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training or any of the stuff that I love about tennis.”
The Brit admits the whole process of dealing with his injury has been draining, adding: “I’ve talked a lot, way too much about my hip for 18 months pretty much, it’s a daily thing, and it’s not just people that I work with that ask me, it’s everyone. Everyone that I bump into, that’s all I talk about, it’s pretty draining.
“I’ve spoken, not loads but a number of times to psychologists and stuff about it but nothing helps because you’re in lots and lots of pain. You can’t do what it is that you want to do, you love doing. I can do it, it’s just not fun, not enjoyable doing it anymore. That’s kind of what I’ve done, tried to deal with it, talked about it, but none of that makes my hip feel better unfortunately, I wish it did, I’d be feeling brilliant just now, but it doesn’t so…”
— Daniel Vallverdu (@danielvallverdu) January 11, 2019
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) January 11, 2019
— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) January 11, 2019
If this is true, I tip my cap to @andy_murray ! Absolute legend. Short list of best tacticians in history. Unreal results in a brutal era …… Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy https://t.co/FZbwmvRC2r
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) January 11, 2019
.@andy_murray 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 & your family. https://t.co/AQUOP3LGec
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) January 11, 2019
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! @andy_murray pic.twitter.com/Bcs0cdllJp
— Grigor Dimitrov (@GrigorDimitrov) January 11, 2019
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