Heartbreak and disbelief as Murray announces retirement

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MELBORUNE — Tennis ace Andy Murray's tearful announcement Friday that he'll be forced to retire this year prompted a volley of tributes to the man, fond recollections of a historic career and encouragement to serve up a fitting farewell.

A tearful Andy Murray on Friday announced he would likely retire this year due to severe pain from a hip injury, saying next week's Australian Open could be the last tournament of a glittering career.

The former world No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam winner broke down at a press conference in Melbourne as he said the pain had become almost unbearable.

"I can play with limitations. But having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training," the emotional Scot said.

Thirty-one-year-old "Sir Andy" said he would like to finish at his home Grand Slam in Wimbledon, but ruefully admitted he might not make it that far.

He will be remembered as the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years and as a player who battled his way to the top in a golden era for the game alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

American star Andy Roddick led the tributes to the former world No. 1, describing his 11-time opponent as an "absolute legend" who is on the "short list of best tacticians" in the history of the sport.

"Unreal results in a brutal era. Nothing but respect here. I hope he can finish strong and healthy," he said.

Murray's failure to recover from a long-term hip injury has put his dream to win next week's Australian Open almost beyond reach.

Such is the level of pain that there is speculation he may not be able to go the distance, much less set up a dream farewell at Wimbledon this July.

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro — who fell short against Murray in a memorable 2016 Olympic gold medal game — urged him not to throw in the towel.

"Andy, just watched your conference. Please don't stop trying. Keep fighting," he wrote.

"I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms, whenever that happens. We love you @andy_murray and we want to see you happy and doing well."

The sentiment was echoed by tennis' women stars, who Murray championed — famously rebuking a journalist for glossing over American greats like Serena Williams arguing for equal billing on the center courts.

Indian star Sania Mirza dubbed him her "foreverfavourite" and a "#foreverachampion".

Legend Billie Jean King declared him a "champion on and off the court".

"Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations."

That sentiment was echoed by Belgian four-time major winner Kim Clijsters, who like many could not help but be moved by Murray's emotional announcement.

"My heart breaks listening to @andy_murray during his press conference," she tweeted.

It is in his native Britain that the announcement will be perhaps most keenly felt.

Murray's status as the greatest British male player in several generations meant he carried the expectations of a nation onto the court. By meeting them, his impact transcended tennis.

Many hoped he can muster the strength and fitness to return to the All England Club — where he twice won in fairytale fashion — for a career finale.

"He deserves his moment to say goodbye at Wimbledon. He's too important to Great Britain and Wimbledon history to not have it," said Roddick. "He just needs to play any match for the goodbye he deserves."

US Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish pointed to Murray's famous determination, which helped him compete against stronger and more skilled players.

"The @andy_murray that I know will absolutely make it to Wimbledon to play his final tournament," he tweeted. "Not many with more heart, effort in the history of the game. Was always a pleasure to share the court pal."

World No. 51 Nick Kyrgios said: "You will always be someone that impacted the sport in so many different ways, I know this was never the way you wanted to go out, but hey it was a heck of a ride.

"You took me under your wing as soon as I got on tour, and to this day you have been someone I literally just look forward to seeing. You're one crazy tennis player, miles better than me.

"I just want you to know that today isn't only a sad day for you and your team, it's a sad day for the sport and for everyone you've had an impact on."

British No. 1 Kyle Edmund wrote:"For me he's been my biggest role model out of any tennis player. He's Britain's greatest tennis player ever and you could say maybe Britain's best sportsman ever."

Doubles Great Bob Bryan said: "We'll all forever remember the mark he left on our sport... but I'll also never forget the afternoon he carved out of his busy training schedule to help raise money for our kids foundation. This guy has a heart of gold and will always be a legend in tennis and life."

Murray's Former Coach Darren Cahill expounded: "When you search for examples of 'emptied the bucket to be as good as they could be' there should be a picture of Andy Murray sitting under that quote.

"Remarkable discipline for training, competition, sacrifice, perfection, a little crazy but a legend of a bloke. Bravo Andy."

Murray's Former Coach Daniel Vallverdu in response to Cahill added: "Whatever you think 'emptying the bucket' means... times that by 5 and that's who @andy_murray is. Thank you Andy - thank you for always being you. #1"

Former Grand Slam doubles champion Pam Shriver said: "A male leadership voice that stands out and is outstanding during a challenging time for gender issues. Andy was able to reach #1 during the Federer Nadal Djokovic era making it the era of the big 4. My family is sending Andy all the love and support from Los Angeles. @JudyMurray".

World No. 6 Kevin Anderson expressed: "My thoughts are with @andy_murray and I really hope we continue to see you fighting on court so you can retire on your own terms. Get well soon... Tennis is better with you."

World No. 21 Grigor Dimitrov said: "Tennis will come to an end for us all but the friendships will last a lifetime. What you've done for the sport will live on forever. I'm hoping for a strong and healthy finish for you, my friend! @andy_murray."

Scottish Snooker Great Stephen Hendry said: "Hard to read that @andy_murray being forced to retire because of injury, no doubt one of Scotland's greatest ever sportsmen."

Dallas Mavericks Forward Dirk Nowitzki said: @andy_murray Legend!

Golf World No. 1 Justin Rose said: "What a career @andy_murray keep it going as everybody wants to watch you @Wimbledon in July mate. #GOAT." — Agencies


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