Britain awoke to a new era on Monday, into a world in which the tennis-loving public finally has its own Wimbledon champion once again.
On Sunday, Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, to win the men’s title at the All England Club. Murray became the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936, a victory that has already sparked talk of a knighthood. On Monday, he was feted across Britain – and discussing still being ranked No. 2 behind the man he just defeated.
"Arise Sir Andrew, knight of the holy grail," The Times of London wrote in its lead story. "Impossibly, dreamily, unbelievably and yet somehow almost easily, somehow almost inevitably, Andy Murray won the Men’s Singles final at Wimbledon yesterday."
Prime Minister David Cameron, who watched the match from the Royal Box, seemed to be on board with Murray getting knighted and joining the ranks of other sporting greats such as Roger Bannister, Nick Faldo and Kelly Holmes.
"I can’t think of anyone who deserves one more," Cameron said.
Murray, however, quickly downplayed the possibility.
"It’s a nice thing to have or be offered," the 2013 Wimbledon champion said. "I think just because everyone’s waited for such a long time for this, that’s probably why it will be suggested."
According to the BBC, a peak of 17.3 million people in Britain watched the match on television. Last year’s final, in which Murray lost to Roger Federer, reached a peak of 17 million.
Britain has been waiting generations for a men’s champion (the last women’s champion was Virginia Wade in 1977). But the expectations have been increasing almost exponentially over the last 15 years or so. That’s when Tim Henman made the first of his four semifinals, sending the public into a frenzy of hope from 1998 to 2002.
• Murray made the Wimbledon semifinals three years in a row before reaching the 2012 final, but then lost to seven-time champion Federer. A loss that may have changed him for the better, forever. He followed that disappointing defeat with the Olympic gold medal, beating Federer on the same Wimbledon court, on the same Wimbledon grass, a few weeks later. Then he beat Djokovic in the US Open final, winning his first major title and the first Grand Slam singles title for a British man since Perry won the US championships in 1936, the same year he won the third of his three straight Wimbledon titles.
• A day after his historic victory at the All England Club, Murray said he is far more interested in winning additional Grand Slam titles than reaching No. 1. He has played in the finals of the last four major tournaments he entered. Asked Monday if moving up to the top spot is his next goal, Murray replied: "I don’t know. It’s a tough one for me, because right now I’ve won two Slams and … and (won) the Olympic gold, and I’m nowhere near being No. 1. I don’t know exactly why that is." He noted that perhaps he needs "to be more consistent in the other events," and is aware that skipping this year’s French Open because of a bad back did not help his ranking points. So far this season, he is 34-5 with four titles, second on tour to Rafael Nadal’s seven and remains ranked No. 2. "I would rather not get to No. 1 and win more Grand Slams," he said, "than never win another Grand Slam and get to No. 1. I’d rather try to win more Slams."
• There is one more Grand Slam tournament remaining in 2013, the US Open, and for the second year in a row, the first three major titles were divided by three men. This year, Djokovic won the Australian Open (beating Murray in the final), Nadal won the French Open, and Murray put his name on the list Sunday. It sets up an intriguing hard-court stretch now, leading to Flushing Meadows, where play will begin Aug. 26, with Murray as the reigning champion.
• Murray, who said he received a congratulatory phone call Monday morning from recently retired English football star David Beckham, now will take some time off to rest and enjoy his victory, before gearing up to prepare for the Open in his first attempt to defend a major title. Murray began his career 0-4 in Grand Slam finals, including a loss to Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2012, but is 2-1 since. "I hope I don’t lose hunger. You know, I think I should be able to use this as motivation. I know what it’s like losing in a Wimbledon final, and I know what it’s like winning one. And it’s a lot better winning," Murray said. "So the hard work is worth it, and I just need to make sure I don’t get sidetracked by anything.