At 5:24 p.m. local time on Centre Court in London on Sunday, a backhand into the net by the world's top-ranked tennis player gave Andy Murray his first Wimbledon title, and ended a 77-year wait for Britain.
Mr. Murray's 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 defeat of the top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia was the first victory at the All England Club for a British man since Fred Perry won in 1936, when players wore long flannel trousers. The win will also open up the 26-year-old Mr. Murray's earning potential.
Ending Britain's decades-long drought at the grass-court major may triple Mr. Murray's earnings of around $12 million a year from endorsements and prize money, according to branding consultant Jonathan Gabay. "A British man winning Wimbledon hasn't happened for such a long time," said Mr. Gabay, who's worked with the British Broadcasting Corp. and Royal Bank of Scotland Group. "The sky really is the limit for him."
Nigel Currie, director of London-based sports marketing agency BrandRapport, said Mr. Murray, who also holds the U.S. Open and Olympic titles, may actually be able to pull in as much as 50 million pounds ($74 million) a year.
Almost all U.K. newspapers carried Mr. Murray on their front pages today. "History Boy," headlined The Times, while the Daily Mirror ran a picture of Murray with the trophy and the headline "History in His Hands." The Sun added: "Finally, After 77 Years, 15 Prime Ministers, Three Monarchs…Brit Man Wins Wimbo." The BBC today said 17.3 million TV viewers watched Murray win, which is a share of close to 80% of the audience.
The second-seeded Mr. Murray yesterday said he played "the hardest game ever" at 5-4 in the final set, when he squandered three match points before saving three break points.
"I started to feel nervous and started thinking about what just happened," said Mr. Murray, who lost last year's final to Roger Federer. "Very rarely will you get broken from 40-0 up on grass and when you're serving for Wimbledon."
He finally succeeded on the fourth match point, as Mr. Djokovic made his 40th error.
After a loud roar rolled from Centre Court to "Murray Mound," where thousands of spectators had watched the final in temperatures that reached 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit), Mr. Murray sunk to all fours on the grass before climbing up to his box to embrace his supporters, including his coach Ivan Lendl.
"He managed to keep his composure and get there in the end," Judy Murray, Andy's mother and his first coach, said half an hour after the win, a glass of champagne in her hand. "I'm absolutely thrilled for him."
Mr. Murray's victory was lauded by former champions including Rod Laver, John McEnroe and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron while Queen Elizabeth II sent a private message. "It was a fantastic day for Andy Murray, for British tennis and for Britain," Mr. Cameron told reporters on a visit to a school in London today.
Asked about the possibility of Mr. Murray receiving a knighthood and being able to use the title 'Sir,' Mr. Cameron replied "Honors are decided independently but, frankly, I can't think of anyone who deserves one more."
Mr. Murray has had a difficult relationship at times with the British press and was accused of being "anti-English" after he made a joke about the England national soccer team during the 2006 World Cup.
Mr. Murray's image "softened" after he cried on Centre Court last year after his loss to Federer, Mr. Gabay said.
In a documentary broadcast by the BBC shortly before Wimbledon, Mr. Murray struggled with his emotions as he recounted memories of hiding in his primary school in Dunblane when former Scout leader Thomas Hamilton shot 16 pupils and a teacher dead in March 1996.
Yesterday, people sang and danced in the streets of Dunblane after Murray's victory.
Bud Collins, an American tennis historian and broadcaster who has followed the game for more than 40 years, said he spoke to Perry three days before his 1995 death, and the former champion wasn't convinced his feat would ever be matched by a Briton.
"I wish Fred Perry was here to see it," Collins said, while watching Murray hold the trophy from the press box on Centre Court. "I asked him if a British man would ever win Wimbledon and he thought no one would ever do it."
Mr. McEnroe, a three-time winner in London, told the BBC Mr. Murray may win "at least six majors."
As happened in previous years, "Murray Mania" in the U.K. intensified as he advanced, especially after Mr. Federer was beaten in the second round and two-time champion Rafael Nadal was knocked out the first round. Mr. Murray could have played either in the semifinals.
His draw was eased further after half the seeds in the top 10 exited before the third round through injury or defeat. Tickets for yesterday's men's final had been offered at as much as 71,000 pounds a pair on online market place Viagogo.
~ Bloomberg News ~