August 3, 2020
Jamie Murray can look back with extreme satisfaction on this sunny English summer.
Two ambitious events in extremely testing circumstances. Two resounding hits.
They weren’t Wimbledon. But they made us look forward to Wimbledon 2021 even more.
They were quintessentially British events with an extra verbal edge. They were safe and they were wonderful.
When we welcome the world back to Wimbledon in 2021, we will show once more how a tournament is best run to ensure enjoyment and safety in equal measure.
These recent successes were as much as Jamie could have hoped for when he conceived and then organised the Battle of the Brits.
The mixed team event was even more spectacular than the men’s opener.
With the help of Martina Navratilova’s agent Mary Greenham, Jamie has worked two tennis miracles.
When the coronavirus crisis is over, we will look back to see who stepped up in the world of tennis.
Jamie Murray will be right up there with the very best of them.
His little brother Andy sounded rightly proud and appreciative at the end of the Battle of the Brits team event.
Andy said: ‘My brother, I think all the players would agree, has done an unbelievable job these last four weeks, giving us an opportunity to compete in what’s been a difficult time.’
Naturally that tribute was followed by a humorous put-down after their Union Jacks team, captained by their mother Judy, lost out when Jamie was defeated in his last doubles match.
‘Shame he had a stinker today,’ Andy added dryly.
In personal, purely tennis terms, maybe there was a grain of truth to this.
Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart beat Jamie and Heather Watson 6-3, 6-2 to seal a 63-56 victory for British Bulldogs after the teams entered the final day tied on 45-45.
But the dramatic climax was in itself down to Jamie Murray and the clever way the tournament was planned out.
Stinker? No. Every day was a winner for Jamie Murray. Every thrill and shriek.
The players invested massively and left the venue sharpened and hardened for the tour.
As the likeable Salisbury put it: ‘I can’t believe, after all the tennis we’ve had, that it came down to the last match of the week!
‘It’s been so much fun. It’s been borderline, some of the heckling. If you can play in these conditions, you can play anywhere.’
Union Jacks skipper Judy Murray called it ‘one of the best tennis weeks EVER.’
Bulldogs captain Anne Keothavong echoed: ‘I second this. Thank you so much Jamie Murray and Mary Greenham for putting this together.’
We feel we know our British stars, both established and rising, so much better now.
Salisbury holds the Australian Open doubles title. But we will cheer him on even more at Wimbledon 2021 after this more intimate introduction to an underrated British sports personality.
We have been treated to a week of Salisbury’s solid and endearing support for his young doubles partners.
Emma Raducanu has shone all week. Who doesn’t think the 17-year-old Raducanu is a massive star in the making?
On the other side Jodie Burrage also showed what she could achieve in future, if she really puts her mind to it.
Mixed doubles has been given a new lease of life and rightly so.
As Andy Murray has pointed out, not many sports see men and women battling it out together in a competitve arena.
Tennis is special.
And if we didn’t realise it already, the Murray family is also special.
Jamie doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. Remember, he won Wimbledon before Andy.
But this summer has shown it is time to take a look at the man as well as the player. Time to give him a huge round of applause.
Through sheer force of character, he has achieved something many might have thought impossible. Not once but twice.
What a show we had last week!
Jamie Murray reflected: ‘It’s been an amazing week, it’s everything I thought it could be.
‘Amazing to bring everyone together, all the top players, the younger players, a great opportunity to be part of this…’
And a great opportunity for all of us to enjoy the Murray family’s talents. Doubtless they will remain in our minds as we build towards Wimbledon 2021.
Well done Jamie, in particular. And thank you!