Murray: I used to get hate mail sent to my locker at Wimbledon
21:23 GMT, 15 September 2012
Andy Murray will bring the small Scottish town of Dunblane to a standstill when he makes his first, personally chosen, public appearance as US Open champion on Sunday.
At some point, he will take a microphone to remind those who knew him as a boy that he will always think of the town as his home.
Thousands will cheer him to the echo, proud to a man, woman and child that Britain's first men's Grand Slam tennis champion for 76 years should have returned to celebrate among them.
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But the reception will be in stark contrast to the treatment Murray says he has received in the past at the home of British tennis, Wimbledon.
The 25-year-old Scot, who beat reigning US Open champion Novak Djokovic in a dramatic five-set final in New York on Monday night, won great admiration during two appearances at Wimbledon this summer.
His defeat by Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final is remembered for his teary-eyed speech thanking the crowd for their support.
Then he eclipsed that performance by defeating Federer to win an Olympic gold medal on the Centre Court three weeks later. But as messages of support overwhelmed Murray following his triumph in New York last week, he revealed how much abuse he had attracted earlier in his career at Wimbledon.
'I was still a kid but I was getting notes to my locker at Wimbledon that said: “I hope you lose every tennis match for the rest of your life”,' said Murray.
'People within the grounds of Wimbledon were saying [offensive] stuff to me, too.'
You've earned it: Murray kisses his trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic
Murray's reputation had plummeted when, following initial rave reviews after he arrived on the barren British tennis landscape as the 17-year-old heir-apparent to Tim Henman, Murray made a joke against the English football team, saying that he would 'support whoever England were playing against' in the 2006 World Cup.
The comment has haunted him ever since, even though it was clearly intended as a lighthearted remark during an interview with Henman, during which the former British tennis No 1 had mocked Scotland's failure to qualify for the tournament in Germany.
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But Murray's popularity rating had also suffered as a consequence of his, at times, petulant and foulmouthed reaction to the unfolding drama of matches around the world.
'It's a shame it took me to cry at Wimbledon to maybe change the perception of me,' said Murray last week.
'But the support I have had over the past few months has been unbelievable. It has definitely helped.'
Murray knows he polarised opinion in Britain during his rise to the top.
said: 'Maybe I've said things I shouldn't have said. You can get away
with that when you are young, but at 19 or 20 people start to question
the way you act on court. Everything you say is judged. I always felt I
hadn't done anything wrong but I started to understand how things
'I started to become a bit more guarded. Also, I spoke with people about how to deal with that stuff.
'You need to try to be yourself as much as possible but, at the same time, if people don't like you, it's not your problem.'
Murray believes that this summer he has reconnected with the Wimbledon
public. 'Over the last few months I have definitely had that connection
come back,' he said.
'I hope it stays that way.
'Obviously, you see the hard work that the British Olympic athletes have done but the support of the nation, and the media, helped the performance of those athletes at the Games this summer, no question.'
Now Murray has regained that support, he will surely do his utmost to retain it.
And a joyous homecoming in Dunblane on Sunday will be the perfect way to demonstrate the public's affection for the champion who was once characterised as just a grumpy young man.