A Wimbledon without Andy Murray? To a British tennis fan of the past champion’s generation, the prospect of his absence at SW19 is a gloomy one, so fingers crossed he makes it on Tuesday.
Thirteen years have passed since a teenage Murray took the men’s draw by surprise by storming to the third round on his first appearance at the Slam, and – barring an injury absence in 2007 – he has been as much of a fixture of the tournament as strawberries and rain delays ever since. However, while contemplating the former British No 1’s absence for the first time in 11 years (he has entered the event, but may still withdraw), his fans may find themselves taking a philosophical stance at the prospect of there being no serious home contender for the singles title.
The players previously seen as Murray’s supporting cast are now starting to step out of his shadow – and this now seems like a great opportunity to make their mark on the grass.
Kyle Edmund has made huge strides and is seen as Murray’s natural successor, but it is worth looking further down the rankings for the players who will get us out of our seats this fortnight.
Cameron Norrie is a very different beast to ice-cool Edmund and although his game does not mirror Murray’s, he seems to embody a similarly vocal never-say-die spirit on court. Having recently broken into the top 100, he’s fiercely ambitious and, although his grass season so far has perhaps not yielded the results he would have liked, he has been handed a winnable first-round tie against former Brit Aljaz Bedene.
Liam Broady’s tie with Milos Raonic – the 2016 runner-up – offers a real chance for a player often labelled a journeyman. Raonic has struggled with injury in recent months, and Broady is a player who feeds off a home crowd.
The players previously seen as Murray’s supporting cast are now starting to step out of his shadow – and this now seems like a great opportunity to make their mark on the grass.Grace Newton
Optimism also surrounds the British women. A new generation in their late teens and early 20s – among them Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart and Gabriella Taylor – appear hungry for success and could end up going further in the game than their immediate predecessors Heather Watson and Laura Robson, both of whom seem unlikely to deliver on the promise of their early careers.
This group could make the most of the opportunity if they avoid falling into the complacent mindset British players have been stereotyped for in the past.
At Wimbledon, excitement, drama and passion is still guaranteed whenever a home hope steps onto the court.