An emotional Andy Murray announced he is planning to retire after Wimbledon but that next week’s Australian Open could be the final tournament of his career.
Murray broke into the limelight in 2005 with a ranking of 407.
The former world number one has battled to recover from a chronic hip condition for more than 18 months, undergoing surgery in Melbourne a year ago, but was forced to admit in a tearful press conference that his efforts have not been enough.
Triple Grand Slam winner Murray was on the verge of tears as he entered the press room and, asked how his hip was feeling, managed to say “not great” before being overcome by his emotions and having to leave the room.
He returned after several minutes to deliver his devastating news, saying: “Obviously I’ve been struggling for a long time. I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now.
“I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads. I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.”
Murray will contest his first-round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday but that may prove to be the final match of his illustrious career.
The 31-year-old said: “I’m going to play. I can still play to a level. Not a level that I’m happy playing at. But it’s not just that. The pain is too much really and I don’t want to continue playing that way.
“During my training block (in Miami last month) I spoke to my team and told them I can’t keep doing this. I needed to have an end point because I was sort of playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop. “
He continued: “I said to my team, look I think I can get through this until Wimbledon. That’s where I’d like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”
After another pause while Murray sat with his head on the desk, he was asked whether this might be his last tournament.
“Yes I think there’s a chance of that for sure because I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months,” he said.
“I have an option to have another operation, which is a little bit more severe than what I’ve had before in having my hip resurfaced, which will allow me to have a better quality of life and be out of pain.
“That’s something I’m seriously considering right now. Some athletes have had that and gone back to competing but there’s obviously no guarantees with that and the reason for having an operation like that is not to return to professional sport, it’s just for a better quality of life.”
The US Open was Murray’s first Grand Slam title and he went on to win Wimbledon twice as well as claiming Olympic gold, marking him out as a member of the sport’s ‘big four’ alongside Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novac Djokovic over the past decade.