Andy Murray starts his road to recovery at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy
If you were wondering if someone who has won Wimbledon and Olympic Gold twice each and reached the world No. 1 ranking still enjoys the little things of tennis, then you have your answer: yes, he does.
On Thursday morning, more than a hundred student-athletes from the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy gathered to meet Andy Murray and exchange a few balls with him. The three-time Grand Slam champion may be used to hearing large crowds chanting his name, but he seemed moved by such a warm reception after spending eight months away from the tour.
"I had no idea so many people were coming (laughs). I feel good. I’m happy to be here training again — I missed playing. I’ve not been fit for a long time, so I’m happy to be playing again,” he said towards the end of a 30-minute Facebook Live broadcast on the Academy’s Facebook page.
For the occasion, the Court 3 was officially named after the Brit — the Court 1 and 2 having already been named after Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic respectively during the Academy’s inauguration, in September 2016.
“As you can see, one of our main goals here is to educate kids to make them successful people. For that, there is nothing better than role models, and you are an incredible role model to all the kids,” Patrick Mouratoglou said in his opening speech before Murray leaves a handprint at the entrance to the court. "Through your career and what you achieved, you showed you have in yourself all the values of high level and sport. For all these reasons, we’re proud to have you here."
Murray has been training on the Academy’s hard courts for a week, while also taking advantage of its health and sports center. He's been hitting with fellow Brit Aidan McHugh, his sparring partner, who reached the semifinals of the 2018 Boys’ Australian Open. This is the first time Murray has been seen on a tennis court since undergoing a hip surgery in Australia on January 8, 2018 — the week prior to the Australian Open, from which he was forced to withdraw.
The former world No. 1 is hoping to make his comeback to the ATP World Tour for the grass season. On this Thursday, per Stuart Fraser of the Times Sport, he signed up to play in the ATP s-Hertogenbosch grass-court tournament from June 11-17. He had already committed to the Queen's the following week. Wimbledon, still the last tournament he competed in (he made the quarterfinals last year), will be played from July 2-15.
Despite the enthusiasm they showed this morning, the Academy's kids might have a hard time competing with the local crowd if Andy Murray makes an appearance at SW19.
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