After a period in which the news agenda has all too often been dominated by terrorist atrocities or by the horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire, Andy Murray has the chance to bring a little joy into the British summer over the next fortnight.
The world No 1’s prospects of winning Wimbledon for a third time may have been jeopardised by the hip injury which has interrupted his preparations this week, but he will be doing everything in his power to make a successful defence of his title when competition begins here on Monday.
“I’m hoping that I can play some good tennis and hopefully have a great run again and make it an interesting summer,” Murray said. “I want to do well. It’s a big, big event in the British sporting calendar. A lot of people watch it, support it, come out, buy tickets and everything.”
Murray saw at first hand in the 2012 Olympics how sport can bring people together. “I’ve been lucky to be at a few Olympics, but in London it was amazing,” he said. “The only time when I’ve seen the city like that, when I’ve just been out and about, was when I went to watch the London Marathon when my wife was running in it.
“People do come out and support each other. We are strong. It’s a strong, strong community. You don’t see it all of the time. But in special circumstances, with everything that’s happened, you’ve seen it. You’ve seen a lot of the communities come together and be very supportive.
“A lot of people [have been] very angry, as well, but a lot of people [have been] coming together. You can see it through sports, like the Olympics or the Marathon or things like that.”
Murray, who donated his prize money from last week’s Aegon Championships to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, said that recent events had amounted to “a pretty rough few months”, but has seen how sport can help to bring happiness into people’s lives.
“I feel that people come to watch and want to be entertained and have a day out and enjoy themselves,” he said. “It’s great that people are still going out to do those sort of things.
“When I’m out on the court, you’re in your own little bubble. When you are removed from it, or when you take a step back and think about it, it’s amazing that you get to go and play on those courts in front of 10,000 people, 15,000 people. But when I’m out there I’m in my own bubble.”
Murray said that since becoming a father he had become more affected by events affecting children all around the world.
“At any stage, if you see a sick child, you feel really bad, but now I feel more emotional about it because you know that can happen to anyone,” he said. “When you have a young kid as well, it changes the way you view it a little bit. Maybe [I’ve become] a bit more emotional towards that kind of stuff now.”
Murray said that in the light of incidents like the atrocity at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester it was “amazing that we get to go out and play in pretty much packed stadiums like at Queen’s, with eight, nine, ten thousand people who still come out to watch. It’s great. We’re very lucky to get to do that. But it does make you think.”
As the defending champion Murray will be given pride of place on Monday when he opens proceedings on Centre Court against Russia’s Alexander Bublik.
The Scot described Centre Court as “a special place to play”. He added: “It’s a great court at one of the biggest tournaments, if not the biggest tournament for me in the year. When I get out there, if I’m not feeling nerves and I don’t feel any pressure and I’m not motivated, I wouldn’t be playing any more.
“If I’m not feeling that way when I go out to play that event, it won’t be worth doing all the work and stuff. I love playing there. I feel like I’ve played some of my best tennis on that court during my career.”
As a member of the All England Club Murray is a regular visitor here during periods of the year when he is based at home.
“It’s nice and quiet during the year,” Murray said. “I sometimes get on the clay a little bit, use the gym. I’m very familiar with the surroundings. Maybe for some of the players, each time they get back there it feels extra special. I spend so much time there during the year that it just feels more comfortable, more than anything.”