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Andy Murray v Bunny Austin: Can Scot emulate 30s British great?

Category: Headlines

Published: 6th Jul 2012 11:42:00

Andy Murray is a match away from becoming the first British man to reach a Wimbledon final since Henry "Bunny" Austin in 1938 - a feat which would book his place among the greatest home players of the post-war era.

He was an extremely good looking, red-blooded lad. The girls liked him and he liked the girls”

The best male British tennis players, it seems, peak around the same time.

Bunny Austin (1932) and Fred Perry (1934) were both 25 when they reached their first Wimbledon finals, and now Andy Murray has the chance to do the same - at the same age.

The single-minded Perry - who launched his famous polo shirt in 1952 - went on to win three in a row, Austin was thrashed in both of his and Murray, well, we will see.

All three have tasted fame and celebrity, and yet their experiences and place in the history of the game are defined by their eras.

The more class-ridden, amateur past is in many ways unrecognisable from the professional age.

So, how does Murray compare to the last British man to make a final at SW19?

Vital statistics

Right-handed, 5ft 9in, one-handed backhand, 9 stone.

Right-handed, 6ft 3in, two-handed backhand, 13 stone.

Highest ranking

No 2 - in the 1930s

No 2 - in August 2009. Currently no 4

Prize money

As runner-up in 1932, Austin won £10. The winner was presented with the Renshaw Cup and a gold medal. Third prize was £5. Tennis writer and author Jon Henderson said some competitors in Austin's era were given tokens for West End shops.

Murray, who is worth around £24m, will pocket £1.15m if he wins on Sunday - a record amount for the tournament. If he loses, he will walk away with £575,000. The overall pot rose 10% to £16.1m this year, the largest jump since 1993.

Wimbledon singles record

Appeared 13 times from 1926-39, winning 56 of 69 matches, and losing 13.

Appeared eight times so far from 2005 - winning 29 of 35 matches, and losing six.

Preferred attire

At the 1933 championships Bunny reached the quarter finals, but found himself weighed down by his "sweat-sodden" cricket flannels, so he asked his tailor to "run up some prototype shorts". The rest is history. He became the first player to wear shorts in the game.

In 2009, Murray wore the famous logo of his then sponsor Fred Perry, but since then has sported Adidas after signing a three-year deal worth around £15m. Last month he also signed a deal to wear a model of watch made by Swiss manufacturer Rado.

Love life

Met glamorous actress Phyliss Konstam on a Cunard liner in 1929 as he travelled for the US Open. He married her two years later in a society wedding. She starred in Hitchcock films Champagne, The Skin Game and Murder. They had a daughter and a son.

In a long-term relationship with Kim Sears, who is regularly seen in his player's box. They met before he was a big name, at the US Open in 2005. After a temporary split in 2009, they were reconciled a short time later. Her father is the tennis coach Nigel Sears.

Famous connections

Bunny and Phyliss knew Michael, King of Romania and played social tennis with Charlie Chaplin and the Queen of Thailand. Their friends included author Daphne du Maurier and actor Ronald Colman.

Murray has been cheered on this year by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. He is friendly with a number of boxers - a sport he loves - and is personally represented by entertainment tycoon Simon Fuller.

Style of play

Slim, quick and graceful with fluid strokes.

Classic counter-puncher, low error count, solid serve, great strategist.

School

As a pupil at exclusive Repton School in Derbyshire, he won the under-16s singles in the public schoolboys' tournament at Queen's. While still an undergraduate at Cambridge University, he reached the men's doubles semi-finals in his first year at Wimbledon in 1926.

Attended Dunblane Primary School in Perthshire, and was present when gunman Thomas Hamilton walked in and killed 16 children and one adult in 1996, although not in the same class. Studied at the Schiller International School for athletes in Barcelona.

Early life

Brought up in a large house with servants in South Norwood, he enjoyed a charmed middle-class upbringing. He practised hitting tennis balls against his nursery wall and joined Norhust Tennis Club aged six.

Born in Glasgow, Andy and his brother Jamie were encouraged to play from an early age by their mother Judy, a former coach and current captain of the Great Britain Fed Cup team. Andy first played aged three.

Any controversies?

In the 1930s, Bunny became involved in the Moral Re-Armament movement and was a conscientious objector during the war. His views were not welcomed by the All England Club and his membership was cancelled in 1961 - officially for non-payment of dues. It took 40 years before he was re-instated.

Murray remains a figure some struggle to warm to, in part due to his World Cup comment in 2006 in which he joked he would cheer on anyone but England during the tournament. He has insisted he is "not anti-English and never was" and that his light-hearted comment was taken out of context.

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BBC News, 2012. Andy Murray v Bunny Austin: Can Scot emulate 30s British great? [Online] (Updated 6th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1439033/Andy-Murray-v-Bunny-Austin-Can-Scot-emulate-30s-British-great [Accessed 28th Aug 2014]

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