Published On: Mon, Jul 8th, 2024
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Wimbledon boss opens door for Andy Murray return and reveals statue plans | Tennis | Sport

Day Four: The Championships - Wimbledon 2024

The door has been left open for Andy Murray to compete at Wimbledon next year (Image: Getty)

Wimbledon boss Sally Bolton has left the door open for Sir Andy Murray to return to the courts at SW19 next year if he wishes to.

The two times Wimbledon champion, 37, has ruled out playing in the singles draw but Novak Djokovic has continued to hint that Sir Andy could be back.

Tennis legends paid an emotional tribute to his career after he played alongside his brother Jamie Murray, 38, in the men’s doubles on Centre Court on Thursday night.

Djokovic said: “I do wish him all the best in his farewell. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to come back again. He’s [an] incredible competitor.

“Resilience that you can definitely study and teach young athletes.

“On being asked about Djokovic’s remarks, Sir Andy said: “Yeah, I mean, I could definitely still win matches here on the grass once I’m recovered from the back injury. But I don’t want to do that now.

“Yeah, I know I could do it, but I have no plans to play singles again.”

The chief executive said they would be happy to have Sir Andy back as he is one of the greats of the game.

Ms Bolton said: “Look I have no idea what Andy is talking to Novak about – all I would say is clearly he is one of the greatest champions that the Championships has seen.

“Of course fans would love to see Andy back – but clearly that is a decision for Andy.

Day Four: The Championships - Wimbledon 2024

Andy Murray brought the curtain down on his Wimbledon career (Image: Getty)

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“A year from now is a very long way away.”

She added: “Our plans for celebrating Andy’s career are wider than what we decided to do on court, we have talked before about a statue in the grounds.

“I think our view is a lot of those parts of a lasting tribute actually we would want to engage with Andy on what that looked like. I don’t think there is a rush to do those things, it’s about getting it right. The plan there is to work with Andy.”

Fans missed out on seeing Murray play alongside Emma Raducanu, 21, on Saturday night after she withdrew from the mixed doubles as she had felt some soreness in her right wrist.

It was due to be one of his last matches at Wimbledon. His mother Judy Murray, 64, described the decision as “astonishing” but appeared to backtrack and criticised the scheduling instead.

Judy said: “Not sure anyone understands sarcasm these days. Pretty sure the scheduling (4th match court 1 with a singles following day) will have played a major part in any decision making.”

All England Lawn Tennis Club chief executive Ms Bolton on being asked by the Daily Express about the criticism said: “I think you can all recognise that scheduling this year particularly with the rain has been uniquely challenging, scheduling as I think I said before the tournament is always more of an art than a science and we do our best to try and find the right balance in our scheduling.

“But again it has been more challenging with the rain here.

“As we thought about the possibility of Emma and Andy playing in the mixed doubles we had to really consider how we would shape those things and we felt we would made the right decisions at the time.

“Athletes’ decisions about the competitions they enter are really a matter for them.”

On former Wimbledon champion Roger Federer being in the crowd of No.1 Court ready to be part of a celebration of Sir Andy’s career, she said: “When we looked at what was likely to unfold for the Championships, our priority was finding the right point at which to give Andy the celebration send off that he absolutely deserved.

“As we looked at that for us the right opportunity was to use the men’s doubles when he was playing with his brother to do that celebration so we are really happy with how that worked, where that landed and how that was received.

“Obviously it helped that day that the sun was shining, so when he went out on the bridge the sun was shining which felt like it was the only time in the whole Championships.

“We had never necessarily planned for the celebration to be absolutely his last match. We wanted to make sure that we picked the right time to do it in the best way possible and we are really pleased with how that turned out.”

She would not be drawn if Hollywood actor Brad Pitt would be in the crowd of the men’s final again this year but said the club wanted to ensure that it was box office.

Ms Bolton said: “It shouldn’t be any surprise that a Wimbledon final is an appealing prospect for people to attend, whether you are Tom Cruise or anyone who is deciding to queue on the day.

“Our priority is to make sure that our Championships and those finals remain a must-see event either live or on TV.”

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