Andy Murray has been basking in near-universal adoration at his home grand slam this week. It’s good, then, that he has a family to keep his ego grounded.
Speaking ahead of this year’s Wimbledon, the former champion revealed a cute anecdote about his seven-year-old daughter, Sophia.
“My eldest daughter is aware, now, of what I do, but I don’t think she really sees it as a good thing,” he said, according to talkSPORT.
“I think she gets more embarrassed by it, to be honest. We went to pick her up from school on Friday, and she will never properly acknowledge me at the school gates or around the other kids at school.
“I asked her that night, ‘Why wouldn’t you give me a hug at school today?’ She said, ‘Because people know you. You’re number 39 in tennis or something!’
“She doesn’t see it as a cool thing. It is more than embarrassing.”
Apparently Sophia also refrains from calling him dad in front of her friends, instead choosing to go with the hilariously deadpan “Andy Murray”.
Murray faced an immense challenge in his second-round match on Thursday (it hadn’t started at the time of writing). His opponent, Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, is the fifth seed.
That’s a step up from the first round, in which Murray easily beat fellow Brit Ryan Peniston in straight sets, with the Princess of Wales and Roger Federer watching from the Royal Box.
Heartwarmingly, another significant person was seated just behind Kate Middleton, having been invited by Murray himself: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker, was detained by Iran in 2016 and held for the next five years, accused of plotting to propagandise against the country’s government. She always denied the charges.
She was released, at last, in 2022, and returned to the United Kingdom.
Speaking to Murray for the BBC last year, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe revealed she had watched him win Wimbledon in 2016 from inside her Iranian prison cell.
“When I was first arrested, I was in prison in solitary confinement, and for about five months they didn’t allow me to have any books or newspapers,” she told him.
“There was a TV in the cell I was in, but it was off the entire time. Then, at some point, they decided to let me use the TV. But it only had two channels.
“One of them was rubbish Iranian-made soap opera all the time, which was very low quality. The other one was a sports channel.
“I put it on, and the first thing that was on was Wimbledon. They had no idea what they had given me, because I was always a big fan of you, but also there I was in solitary confinement watching the match you actually won in the end.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe said the experience gave her a small connection to the outside world and left her feeling “ecstatic”.
“That makes me quite emotional, hearing you speaking about that, so I appreciate you telling that to me,” Murray replied at the time.
“It makes all of the things I would complain about on a daily basis – my knee hurts, or my back hurts or whatever – we all have our own problems, but listening to you and speaking to you, I’ll certainly make sure I’m a lot more grateful for everything that I’ve got.”
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was invited to sit in the Royal Box at Murray’s request.
Speaking after his victory in the first round, Murray explained that he wanted her to watch him play “in totally different circumstances”.
“She hadn’t been to Wimbledon before,” he said.
“After I spoke with her, and (heard) the story she told me about watching my Wimbledon final while she was in a cell, I felt like I wanted to invite her to come along.
“Hopefully it was a much more enjoyable experience.”
Murray said he saw Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe briefly after the match.
“It was brilliant that she was able to come along and watch. It was her first time here. Glad she could make it,” he said.