Andy Murray just got married.
At the 2012 U.S. Open, in the final against Novak Djokovic, the chief bridesmaid of men's tennis—always at the wedding but never the one getting married—was finally able to walk down the aisle as something other than a bridesmaid.
He was finally able to win a Grand Slam title and in doing so, shake off the burden that had hampered his career and reputation for some time now.
It wasn't like Murray didn't know that the major-less tag had stuck on him; speaking out before the match he stated that winning one was "the last thing that I really want to achieve in my career—it's obviously very important for me" (per The Los Angeles Times).
And with a 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Novak Djokovic, he would finally have the title and honor that had eluded him for so long.
He would finally have the respect of many tennis followed; he would finally have something other than a zero next to where it read: Career Grand Slam titles.
Truth be told, there was no better opportunity for the Scot to win a Grand Slam title than the 2012 U.S. Open. There was no Rafael Nadal due to injury, and he was playing someone other than Roger Federer in the semifinals or final, courtesy of Tomas Berdych's victory earlier in the tournament.
He was also flying high after his Olympic gold medal at London 2012—a victory that would have given him the belief and determination that he could in fact beat the world's best and that he too could become one of the world's best.
This was his best chance, and Murray leaped at the opportunity.
Breaking his opponent in the opening game of the match, it was clear that the 25-year-old was focused and prepared for the hours ahead. Just how many hours would be ahead, well, that nobody could be prepared for.
After clinching the opening two sets, Murray had the Grand Slam title at his fingertips. The moment that had eluded him in his life thus far was within his grasp—he could see his prize—and the hours of training and sacrifice finally seemed worth it.
But then Djokovic, like he has done time and time before, began to fight back. The Serbian international broke Murray, then he broke him again. Before long he had taken the third set; then he took the fourth, and the prize that had just an hour ago looked like belonging to Murray was suddenly up for contention once more.
As the two players entered the fifth and final set, nobody really knew which way the result would fall. Murray had been dominant early, but had dropped off, and just how strong he was mentally to come back from that—well, nobody really knew.
Buoyed by his Olympic gold medal, however, Murray would stand firm.
His determination and heart would be displayed for the world to see as he would earn a double break on Djokovic and clinch the 2012 U.S. Open crown—the first Grand Slam title of his career.
It was a true fairytale ending in New York and one that hopefully puts an end to the endless speculation about when and where Murray will finally break through, and whether or not he should be considered an "elite" tennis player.
"Relief is probably the best word I would use to describe how I'm feeling just now," said Murray after his epic performance.
"You're in a little bit of disbelief, because when I have been in that position many times before and not won, you do think: Is it ever going to happen?".
"Even after I won the Olympics, I still got asked, 'When are you going to win a Grand Slam?'. I'm obviously proud that I managed to achieve it, and I don't have to get asked that stupid question again".
For all the individual accolades that will flow in for Murray over the next few days, there is a bigger picture to his success as well. Britain has the first Grand Slam champion since Virginia Wade in 1977—ten years before Murray and Djokovic would be born.
With an Olympic gold medal and now a Grand Slam victory in the space of two months, Murray's performances could well have an impact on British tennis for the future.
"I realize how important that moment was for British tennis, for British sport" said Murray via Time. "I hope it inspires some kids to play tennis..."
With what we can now call the "big four" existent—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and now Murray—it seems that the future of tennis around the world is bright.
And not only do we currently have elite players to entertain and thrill us like we experienced at Flushing Meadows and so many other tournaments this year, but we also have four brilliant role models. We have four players whom tennis youngsters can look up to and gain inspiration from, which can only mean good things for the future of the sport.
And it is that legacy that will be Murray's greatest contribution to the sport.
Defeating the personal Grand Slam burden is no doubt sweet; achieving Olympic gold and establishing himself as a genuine champion is both inspiring and satisfying—but they are both secondary to the way in which both he performed his duties as an ambassador for tennis on Sunday night.
It only takes one little boy in the crowd to take heart from Murray's thrilling win; it only takes one little girl to have witnessed it on television and ask if she can take up tennis lessons the following morning.
Murray's victory is a personal milestone, a national achievement and an international success. But most importantly, it's what drives people to play tennis and it's what keeps the future of the sport strong right across the world .
And that legacy might just be greater than any trophy Murray will win.
Grand Slam or not.
What did you make of Andy Murray's thrilling U.S. Open victory?
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