Andy Murray, world No1, Wimbledon and Olympic champion, made knight of the realm
Andy Murray caps his best ever year in tennis with the ultimate national accolade - a knighthood
Andy Murray has capped his best ever year in tennis—and arguably the best ever year by any British tennis player—with the ultimate national accolade: a knighthood.
Sir Andy, as Murray will become in the New Year’s Honours list this weekend, tops a long list of sports stars who have been acknowledged after an outstanding British performance at the Rio Olympics. He is joined by athlete Mo Farah and Paralympian dressage champion Lee Pearson in receiving knighthoods, while heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger are made dames.
CBEs are awarded to cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny, swimmer Sascha Kindred and equestrians Charlotte Dujardin, Nick Skelton and Sophie Christiansen, while former athlete Sir Roger Bannister is made a Companion of Honour.
Murray’s 2016 began with his fifth final at the Australian Open and ended with his first World Tour Finals title in London, which clinched the year-end No1 ranking.
In between, he played more matches than anyone else and won more, too: 78 from 87. He won more titles, nine of them, from more finals, 13. And those finals included three Grand Slams and five Masters. Not only did he win his second Wimbledon title but became the first to win a second gold at the Olympics.
Along the way, Murray enjoyed two 22+ winning streaks, one beginning with a record fifth Queen’s title and taking in the Wimbledon and Olympic honours, the other still alive at 24 match-wins.
All nine of his titles came after he hit the clay in April, after which he reached the final of 12 of the 13 tournaments he entered.
And he did all this after taking more than a month off the tour to enjoy the birth of his first child in February.
No wonder he picked up the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award earlier this month, his third, but there has always been more to this remarkable athlete than his tennis achievements and formidable work ethic.
Murray, one of sport’s most unstarry champions, has lent his support to countless charities since he first began to make his name on the tour. Most recently, he launched an annual fund-raising event, Andy Murray Live, at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, played just days after his extraordinary three-match Davis Cup efforts that included the longest match he had ever played against Juan Martin del Potro.
The aim was to build a legacy tennis event in the UK whilst raising funds for two charities: the local Glasgow organisation, Young People’s Futures, and for UNICEF, of which Murray is a UK Ambassador.
He has also organised charity matches in aid of the Royal Marsden hospital after friend Ross Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Elena Baltacha died of liver cancer, and regularly donates to Malaria No More, the Royal British Legion and more.
So while it may have taken time for the British public to take Murray to their heart, just as it took Murray time to win his nation’s biggest title, Wimbledon, he is now appreciated for the modest, witty and generous individual that he is. He may not turn 30 until May, but there will be few who do not think this knighthood is entirely justified.
In the 2017 New Year’s Honours List, awards to sport make up 14 per cent of the total
Andy Murray, tennis
Mo Farah, athletics
Lee Pearson, para-equestrian
Jess Ennis Hill, athletics
Katherine Grainger, rowing
Sophie Christiansen, para-equestrian
Charlotte Dujardin, equestrian
Jason Kenny, cycling
Laura Kenny, cycling
Sascha Kindred, para-swimming
Tim Reddish, paralympics
Nick Skelton, equestrian
Nicola Adams, boxing
Penny Briscoe, paralympics
Michael Cavanagh, Commonwealth Games
Ed Clancy, cycling
Chris Coleman, football
Jody Cundy, para-cycling
Anne Dunham, para-equestrian
Mark England, TeamGB
Tim Hollingsworth, Paralympics
Pete Reed, rowing
Kate Richardson Walsh, hockey
Andrew Triggs Hodge, rowing
Plus 114 MBEs