Andy Murray said winning a gold medal at the London Olympics at Wimbledon is as important as breaking Great Britain’s 76-year Grand Slam title drought.
Fred Perry was the last British male to win a tennis major when he triumphed at the 1936 U.S. Open. Fourth-ranked Murray has lost all three major finals he’s played, the last coming at the 2011 Australian Open to top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
“Wimbledon and the Olympics would be two of my major goals,” Murray said yesterday at the Queen’s Club in London at a presentation to announce his five-year commitment to the AEGON Championships. The 24-year-old, who has 22 career titles, is the defending champion at the grass-court event.
“Tennis at the Olympics has become a big deal” Murray said. “Everybody plays it now whereas 10-15 years ago guys were skipping the Olympics.”
Murray said he sees the Olympics as a fifth Grand Slam.
He played at the Beijing Games four years ago, losing in the first round of the singles and the second round of doubles with his brother Jamie. Even with the early defeats, Murray still regards his time in China as a career highlight.
“Just being around all the top athletes in the world, you don’t get that chance very often,” he said. “Tennis is such an individual sport.”
The Olympic tennis tournament begins July 28, 20 days after the Wimbledon Championships end.
Murray, who reached the semifinals of all four majors last year, will start his clay-court preparation for the French Open next week in Monte Carlo. He’ll then play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before heading to Roland Garros. The French Open starts May 27.
Murray reached the semifinals in Paris last season, losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal. While Nadal is the most dominant clay-court player of his generation with 32 titles, including six at the French Open, Murray is still seeking his first tournament victory on the surface.
He’s been working with his new coach, eight-time major champion Ivan Lendl, to improve his form on the sport’s slowest surface. Lendl won 28 clay titles including three French Opens.
“He is confident in the way my game matches up against the other guys on the surface,” Murray said.