In front of thousands of people.
(Not to mention the millions watching on TV).
But that is what Andy Murray did on Sunday after his heartbreaking loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon finals. If you have read my previous posts, you know that I am a die-hard Federer fan. The man is a tennis god. He worked so hard to regain the #1 status and I rejoice for him.
But Andy was playing on his home court and all of Great Britain was hoping their #1 ranked male tennis player would bring home their first Wimbledon victory in more than 70 years. Murray played fantastically and he dug deeply to hang in against the soaring, flawless Federer. John McEnroe, my favorite tennis commentator, talked about how Federer’s shots physically exhaust players by the running, digging, and grueling effort he forces on his opponents. By the last set, we could see Murray (five years younger than Roger) stumble and tire.
Within moments of the match’s conclusion, the victory ceremony began. Murray received his runner-up plate and was asked to say a few words. I can’t imagine being as physically and emotionally wrecked as he was and have to summon up the composure to offer a gracious concession speech. In the cleaned up, edited world we live in, it was amazing that we got to watch him struggle to compose himself. It felt like minutes went by in those 15 seconds of waiting for him to speak.
I appreciated that he let his feelings flow. It was real and true and moving. To watch the crowd stamp and scream and applaud was the ultimate in both honoring his great effort, and his lovely humanity. Federer won the title, but Murray was the hero of Wimbledon 2012. It’s not a traditional public speaking recommendation, but in this case, Murray’s genuine emotion and tears were powerful connectors.
Here is Andy Murray’s speech on YouTube. Andy Murray at Wimbledon 2012