Category Archives: Tennis

A question of greatness

This morning all the world’s media was, rightly so and as I expected, full of the news of Andy Murray’s triumph in the Men’s Singles competition at Wimbledon.

There’s no doubt that his is an exceptional achievement – the first Briton to win the title for 77 years – and he deserves our congratulations.

Not only has he fulfilled a personal dream, he has relieved the nation of the ancient burden of hope – so often wrecked by despair – that it’s borne for three-quarters of a century.

As a result – and it is a great result – we can all share his joy.

But to liken his triumph to that of England winning the FIFA World Cup in 1966 or the Rugby World Cup in 2003?

This seems fanciful at best, hubristic at worst. And it questions the nature of greatness.

Clearly, Andy Murray competes in a fiercely contested one-on-one sport. Self-evidently he has a superb support team of trainers, dieticians and the like. Obviously, he’s good at what he does.

But the fact that is he is not the first Briton to have won Wimbledon’s supreme men’s prize, only the first for a long time, should mute the clamour of adulation and attention he’s received since Sunday evening.

He’s not, like Bradley Wiggins, the very first Briton to win the gruelling competition of his choice: the Tour de France, now in its 100th edition.

For me, Wiggins’s is a far greater achievement.

Andy Murray is undoubtedly a great tennis player and, for the time being at least, a national hero.

But for me, there is no questioning the fact that Bradley Wiggins has the edge, for he has no precedent.

There never was another Briton before him – not an Englishman, a Welshman, a Scot or an Ulsterman – who had ever won the Tour de France in all its 110 years of history.

Andy Murray has achieved greatness. But he wasn’t the first Briton ever to win Wimbledon.

Bradley Wiggins’s greatness lies in the fact that he was – and forever will be – the first Briton to win the Tour de France.

That is true greatness.

Chapeau, Sir Brad!

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