I find myself, probably like many others, inspired and unusually happy by Andy Murray’s win. We bumped into Judy (his mum) in Wimbledon a few days after he won and congratulated her like we knew her – and she received the good wishes like she knew us. It is a heart warming paradox that such greatness (and let’s be honest, he’s worked damned hard to get this far) can make us feel proud of him like he was the man next door. Novelist Justin Cartwright puts this paradox better than me and explains the reason for hero-worship of Sporting Greats:
‘they can do things we would like to be able to do, and we admire them precisely because of those astonishing abilities. They are standing proxy for us; whether they are aware of it or not, we authorise them to act for us, precisely because they can do what we can’t.’
The experience of ‘everyone together’ at a great sporting event is not unlike the experience of everyone together at a great drama or musical in a theatre and we heard many times of tennis being referred to as ‘drama’, which it is, as we don’t know what is going to happen and we watch the players go through their emotions like we watch actors. Cartwright goes on (on sport):
‘the sense of unity is an elusive thing, but it is magnificent to experience’
probably because, sadly, we don’t experience all that much unity in daily life.
Like theatre, sport is both part of the everyday, but also an experience separate from the everyday. Like theatre, tennis in particular, is lonely – you are on court on your own – when it’s good it’s great but when it’s bad it’s the loneliest place on earth – like a stage in the theatre. Like theatre, we see the players in a tennis game seeing angles, seeing possibilities and believing completely in what they are doing. There is nowhere to hide and no one to talk to and in this sense, both tennis court and theatrical stage are real and unperformed – both genres are very public affairs yet where we see the most private and raw emotion.
Well done Andy – for bringing greatness into the everyday.