Andy Murray keeps a nation’s sporting hopes alive

Crowds are led into the grounds ahead of day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Crowds are led into the grounds ahead of day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
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IT has been a difficult start to the sporting summer so far with a crushing end to England’s World Cup hopes.

But Andy Murray showed why there’s still cause for the nation to get excited as he returned to Wimbledon as defending champion yesterday.

Imogen Davies with Rufus the 6 year old Harris Hawk

Imogen Davies with Rufus the 6 year old Harris Hawk

The British number one delighted a packed Centre Court as he delivered a straight-sets win over Belgian David Goffin.

Murray, who will be back on court tomorrow against Slovenian Blaz Rola, was touched by his reception at the All England Club.

“It brought back a lot of good memories. It is nice to walk out to a full crowd for the first match,” he said.

“Last year was the best memory I have had, but I have had a lot of tough moments on that court as well so there is a lot of things I think about.”

He said the win was a “good start” to his Wimbledon campaign, his first under new coach, former Wimbledon women’s champion Amelie Mauresmo.

Murray, 27, will be hoping to clinch the two-in-a-row in SW19 following his historic victory last summer against Novak Djokovic.

Having ended the wait for a British male singles champion at Wimbledon after 77 years, he will try to emulate Fred Perry once more by retaining the title.

And now England are now out of the World Cup and will fly home early, the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.

His win was watched by an audience that included his mother Judy and girlfriend Kim Sears, who was sporting traditional Wimbledon white in a lace dress.

And suitably for the family of Wimbledon royalty, his maternal grandparents, Roy and Shirley Erskine, and his father William Murray, with his partner Samantha Watson, took their seats in the Royal Box.

Scotland Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and retired American basketball player Shaquille O’Neal were also in the exclusive area, along with the Duke of Kent, Princess Michael of Kent and sports presenter Steve Rider.

Among the celebrities at the opening day of the tournament was comedian Jack Whitehall, who said he was hopeful Murray would give cause for sporting celebration following England’s World Cup exit.

“As a Scotsman, I don’t know if that’s on his list of priorities,” he joked.

Other celebrities at club were James Bond star Naomie Harris and singers Laura Mvula, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Pixie Lott and Ellie Goulding.

Actresses Joely Richardson and Kathleen Turner were also in attendance, alongside presenter Jameela Jamil, Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer, and actor and model Jamie Campbell Bower.

But it wasn’t just celebrities, as fans queued in their thousands to get a taste of the opening day’s action.

One of Murray’s biggest fans was at the front of the queue, having arrived at the venue at 7.30am on Saturday.

Stuart Bere, 39, a gardener from Lincolnshire, said of the queue: “It’s buzzing. It’s the best atmosphere it’s been for years. The time just flew by and, to be honest, you’re just chilling out.”

Tickets for Centre Court and Court Number One were sold out by about 8.30am on Sunday.