Billie Jean King among those to pay tribute to Andy Murray as he plans retirement

by Craig Vickers

Tributes have been pouring in today on social media as three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray announces his plans to retire at Wimbledon.

The 31-year-old broke down in tears as he addressed the media before the start of the Australian Open, saying his tireless efforts to rehabilitate his injured hip have been in vain.

The former number one said: “Obviously I have been struggling a long time and I have been in pain for about twenty months now. I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads.

“I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough. I thought I need to have an end point, because I was playing with no idea of when the pain was going to stop.”

His retirement will bring down the curtain on a glistening career in which he ended a 77-year wait for a British male champion at Wimbledon in 2013. Murray’s dedication and tireless work ethic have won him plenty of admirers over the years, and the outpouring of emotion from current and former tennis players are evidence of that.

Juan Martin del Potro, who has endured lengthy injury troubles of his own, urged Murray to “keep fighting” in a lengthy tweet.

“Please don’t stop trying. Keep fighting. I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this,” tweeted the Argentine.

“You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you and we want to see you happy and doing well.”

Murray has been praised for his humour in the locker room and his mentoring of the volatile Nick Kyrgios has been particularly interesting. The 31-year-old considers Kyrgios a close friend and the Australian revealed his admiration for Murray on Facebook.

“You will always be someone that impacted the sport in so many different ways, I know this was never the way you wanted to go out, but hey it was a heck of a ride,” he writes.

“You took me under your wing as soon as I got on tour, and to this day you have been someone I literally just look forward to seeing.

“You are one crazy tennis player, miles better than me, but I just want you to know that today isn’t only a sad day for you and your team, it’s a sad day for the sport and for everyone you’ve had an impact on.”

Kyle Edmund, who has assumed the role of Britain’s number one male player in Murray’s absence, hailed the Scotsman as an “inspiration” as he gears up for the start of the Australian Open on Monday.

He tweeted: “Nobody has done more for British tennis than you and it looks like nobody will for many years to come. You have been an inspiration, friend and role model to me from the get go and I thank you for everything.

“Hope to see you out there for as long as possible.”

Yet equally as admirable about Murray has been his voice in highlighting issues of inequality, chiefly his support of equal pay for men and woman in tennis and his insistence that women’s tennis should be valued as highly as men’s.

Billie Jean King, who pioneered the initial push for equal pay in the sport, was gushing in her praise of Murray’s achievements.

“You are a champion on and off the court. So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future,” she writes on Twitter.

“Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations. Much love to you & your family.”

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