LONDON — The first question at the first formal news conference of the first full day of Andy Murray’s new life as Wimbledon champion concerned the buzz building in Britain about whether knighthood awaits.
Murray sighed and rested his chin on his left hand.
“I don’t really know,” he said Monday. “I mean, it’s a nice thing to have, or be offered. I think just because everyone’s waited for such a long, long time for this — that’s probably why it would be suggested. But I don’t know if it merits that.”
Everything will always be different moving forward for Murray, who became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years by beating No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in Sunday’s final.
Pictures of Murray adorned the front pages of plenty of newspapers Monday morning, several showing him holding and kissing his gold trophy.
Forget about honorifics or headlines or even reaching No. 1. All Murray wants is more Grand Slam championships to go with the two he’s got at the moment.
Twelve months ago, he dropped to 0-4 in major finals by losing to Roger Federer at the All England Club. Undeterred — indeed, more determined than ever — Murray regrouped and got better. He has played in the finals of the last four Grand Slam tournaments he’s entered (he missed this year’s French Open with a bad back). After winning the U.S. Open in September for a career-altering breakthrough, he added a second Slam title Sunday at the place he called “pretty much the pinnacle of the sport.”
Add a gold medal at the London Games, and it’s been quite a year. He had three clear goals — win a Grand Slam title, win an Olympic title at home, win Wimbledon — and he is now 3 for 3.
Murray was asked Monday whether it could be difficult to find other aims to drive him.
“I hope I don’t lose hunger. You know, I think I should be able to use this as motivation. I know what it’s like losing in a Wimbledon final, and I know what it’s like winning one. And,” he said with a bit of a chuckle, “it’s a lot better winning. So the hard work is worth it.”
His father sensed a change after the victories at the Olympics and U.S. Open.
“There’s a bit more of a swagger about him, my son. I noticed that,” Willie Murray said Sunday. “He’s more confident, I think, and it helped him.”
Murray, a 26-year-old Scotsman, attended the All England Club champions’ dinner Sunday night, then woke up after about an hour’s worth of sleep for the obligatory media appointments. That included posing for photos with both arms wrapped around the trophy while standing alongside the statue of Fred Perry, the British man who won Wimbledon in 1936.
Now Murray plans to take some vacation before beginning preparations for playing at Flushing Meadows as the reigning champion at a major tournament for the first time.
“I just need to make sure I don’t get sidetracked by anything. And after the next few days — yeah, enjoy it and celebrate and stuff, but — go away, rest up and get ready for the U.S. Open,” he said. “Because I’ve never had to defend a Grand Slam before. That will be a new experience for me, and I look forward to that.”
While Murray still sits at No. 2 in the ATP rankings, behind No. 1 Djokovic, that’s just fine.
Murray insists he is far more interested in winning extra Grand Slam titles.
“It’s a tough one for me, because right now I’ve won two Slams and … (won) the Olympic gold, and I’m nowhere near being No. 1. I don’t know exactly why that is,” he said. “I would rather not get to No. 1 and win more Grand Slams, than never win another Grand Slam and get to No. 1. I’d rather try to win more Slams.”
So far this season, he is 34-5 with four titles, second on tour to Rafael Nadal’s seven.
There is one more Grand Slam tournament remaining in 2013, the U.S. Open, and for the second year in a row, the season’s first three major titles were divided by three men. This year, Djokovic won the Australian Open (beating Murray in the final), Nadal won the French Open, and Murray put his name on the list Sunday.
It sets up an intriguing hard-court stretch leading to the U.S. Open, where play begins Aug. 26.
As for the long-sought victory on home turf, which the BBC said was watched by more than 17 million people in Britain, Murray said he can’t quite be sure what his triumph means to the locals.
They love their tennis and revere Wimbledon and had hoped someone could follow in Perry’s footsteps.
“I do really try my best to avoid sort of everything that goes on with playing at Wimbledon, with the media coverage and the TV stuff. I try to avoid it because I just can’t get wrapped up in it. And it can be a distraction,” he said.
“But, look, I know how long it’s been. It’s been a long time, there’s been a lot of close calls. … It’ll be nice that as a nation, we don’t have to look at Wimbledon as being sort of a negative. It can be viewed as a positive,” Murray said, before adding: “And I just hope it’s not another 70-odd years again.”
Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. Get in touch with him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich or write to him at [email protected]