Just been sent a copy of this.. Surely the perfect Christmas present? haha, Thanks #Wimbledon
Andy's latest Column - BBC Sport
When I looked at the Wimbledon trophy and my name wasn’t on it, there was a moment when I thought ‘What’s going on?’
To hold that unique, historic trophy on Centre Court was an incredible feeling, but when I was looking down the names of the past winners, I couldn’t find my own.
It turns out they’ve run out of space over the years and my name is on the base, so I didn’t actually get to see my name when I was handed the trophy, but I can confirm it’s on the one I have at home! I only got an hour and a half’s sleep after going to the Champions’ Dinner, but to come downstairs the morning after and have breakfast alongside the replica trophy was pretty surreal.
There’s so much history behind the whole tournament and I didn’t understand all that when I was young and growing up. I wanted to win Wimbledon but I didn’t realise everything that has gone on here over the years.
When you walk down to Centre Court you see pictures of all the winners back to something like 1920, and to be reminded of that every single match has been quite a pressure. To think I’ve joined them now is pretty amazing.
Literally the week before the tournament, I was talking to my team about the Wimbledon museum and they said they were going to take me. I’ll try to pay a visit because I’ve heard it’s really good. I did pose with the trophy alongside the statue of Fred Perry, which was another special moment as he’s such an important historical figure in tennis, and someone people have been telling me about throughout my career. He was obviously a great player but the talk almost became too much, and I just hope we don’t have to wait that long for a champion again.
The final was probably the toughest match mentally that I will ever play, certainly that last game. I was OK at the change of ends before coming out to serve for the title, and I was just thinking: ‘This is where I’m going to hit my first serve on the first point.’ I know how important stats are when you win the first point on serve, so I was just concentrating on that.
It wasn’t until 40-30 that I started to get nervous, and by the time Novak had break points it was panic time. I must admit that if I’d lost that game, I don’t know if I’d have recovered. To come through was such a relief, and I can’t imagine I’ll ever feel pressure like that again.
I really felt it start to lift from my shoulders after the US Open win last year. I felt so much more relaxed in the next few tournaments and when I was on the practice court, I wasn’t getting agitated. I could miss a couple of balls and that was fine.
I’m sure that will be the same this time and hopefully I can enjoy it even more.
A lot has changed for me in the time I’ve been coming to Wimbledon and obviously the expectation and interest has got bigger and bigger.
That can be difficult to handle and when I was younger it might have made me angry sometimes. I was still a kid in those early days and maybe not mature enough to deal with those things. It does upset you when people you don’t know are criticising you, and things are getting said about your family and the people around you. It can challenge you mentally as well.
You start doubting yourself – am I working with the right people? Am I doing the right thing by training here? Have I picked the right coach? It’s not easy. The nice thing now is that hopefully I’ll be able to stick with my team until the end of my career.
One thing I realised from quite a young age is how important family is. When you’re working with people who are 35, 40 years old, they don’t want to spend 40 weeks away from their family.
When I worked with Mark Petchey as my coach, I got on great with him; he’s a great guy and I have a really good relationship with him now. I used to stay with his family when I was in London and we travelled all the time together, but after nine months we’d spent so much time together and he wanted to be with his family. I realised then that when the guys I work with start to have kids, they don’t want to travel for 40 weeks. At first people wondered why I had a team of people around me, but it made sense for me and now a lot of the other players are doing the same thing. Hopefully together we can win a few more Grand Slam titles, although I’m not going to put a number on it.
If the number one ranking comes that would be great, but I now hold two of the Slams, have reached the final of another and won Olympic gold, and I’m nowhere near being number one. I’ll concentrate on trying to win the big titles and the ranking will look after itself. One thing I can already look forward to is walking out on Centre Court on the first Monday next year as the Wimbledon champion. I just cannot imagine what that experience will be like. There will be a lot of pressure and nerves but I don’t think it can be as bad as it has the last few years. The spectators will certainly do well to match the atmosphere on Sunday, which was the best I’ve ever experienced at Wimbledon. I’ve said all tournament that it helps so much, and I must give one final thanks to everyone for your incredible support.
Hopefully we can do it all again next year – but I’m sure we could all do with some rest first!