Is Andy Murray the New David Beckham of British Sports?

Lindsay GibbsFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08:  Andy Murray of Great Britain poses with the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy next to the Fred Perry statue at Wimbledon on July 8, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

On the day after the end of the 77-year title drought for British men at Wimbledon, Henman Hill has cleared out, but the excitement has certainly not died down.

If there’s one thing that Monday morning’s papers in Britain assured us all, it’s that right now, Andy Murray is the face of the nation.

In fact, he might be entering the David Beckham stratosphere. The Guardian certainly thinks so, estimating:

Andy Murray could earn up to £15m a year from personal endorsements following his Wimbledon glory, but is unlikely to mirror David Beckham by signing multiple sponsorship deals.

Murray's straight sets victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday is likely to transform the British player's earnings potential from sponsors and should he choose to, he could now rival Lennox Lewis and David Beckham as one of Britain's highest paid sportsmen of all time, according to sponsorship experts.

Public sentiment and excitement surrounding Murray is certainly at an all-time high after he captured his second Grand Slam in front of his hometown faithful.

According to locals, a supermarket in England was offering strawberries for free on Monday so that patrons could "Celebrate with Andy." The catch? The offer only lasted for 77 hours. There are even pubs renaming their businesses after their hometown hero!

If that's not enough, British Prime Minister David Cameron has even suggested that Murray should be knighted, telling reporters, "I can't think of anyone who deserves one more." 

But not so fast.

While Murray might be the most beloved person in the United Kingdom right now, many on Twitter were quick to point out that Murray should not be knighted before the almighty Beckham.

Beckham stands out as a celebrity figure more so than Murray simply because of the way he embraces it. He married a pop star, chases the multiple endorsements and poses in all of the modeling spreads.

Plus, soccer—I mean, football—is a much more popular sport in Great Britain and across Europe than tennis.

Murray is taking all of this in stride. When told about Cameron's proclamation of knighthood, Murray told reporters:  

I don't really know. 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.

He has, however, been in contact with Beckham. While Victoria Beckham was in the Royal Box to watch Murray win Wimbledon on Sunday, David kept in touch with him throughout the fortnight by text message:

I messaged [David Beckham] back and forth over the last ten days or so. He was just getting back from Singapore. He called me this morning when I was on the way to speak to you guys just to say well done congratulations and enjoy it.

After all, if anyone knows what it's like to be the focus of the British media superstorm, it's Beckham.

The key in all of this is that Murray could potentially be as popular as Beckham if he chooses to be.

But he probably won't. That's just not who he is. Murray is low-key, under the radar and a homebody.

Plus, he doesn't really have much time for the celebrity world. The tennis season is a grueling 11 months, and he takes every single one of them seriously.

However, that doesn't mean he's not striking while the iron is hot. Murray is being smart and going after endorsements—he is represented by Simon Fuller's XIX, with whom Beckham has also worked.

Still, right now Murray's prime focus is getting more Grand Slam titles. The rest of it will come.