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Newport nourishes Andy Murray: the future Hall of Famer opens up about the late Maggie May—and Rusty's noisier namesake, Lleyton Hewitt
"It's just really weird when she's not in the house. It feels a lot quieter, even though she wasn't a dog that barked a lot," the former world No. 1 shares from the Infosys Hall of Fame Open.
Published Jul 15, 2022
WATCH: Andy Murray visits the International Tennis Hall of Fame museum
Loss: it’s an inescapable feeling that enters from all walks of life. Loss of a loved one, loss of hope, loss of relationships, loss of confidence, the list goes on.
In sport, loss is represented on the scoreboard. As of Thursday night, Andy Murray has played 934 tour-level matches throughout his 17-year pro career, where far more wins have been realized. Of the lot, 224 are losses, his most recent coming in the second round of Wimbledon to John Isner.
When he’s not playing tournaments, Murray doesn’t need to look hard for inspiration on finding victories at home, as a proud parent of four with wife Kim. Over the years, the inquisitive nature of their children has been directed towards the furry friends of the household, but today, all are in the early stages of processing a loss no scoreboard can define, the loss of a faithful companion.
If a pet hall of fame existed, Maggie May Murray would be voted in on the first ballot. The evidence lies in her owner’s reflection of the border terrier’s impact on enriching everyone’s lives.
“When we had our first child, [Maggie] was already like nine. Kids, it obviously takes time for them to understand how to stroke the dogs properly. And when they're really young, they want to chase the dogs. They think it's a game,” Murray tells TENNIS.com in a phone interview. “They yank on their tails, and they do things that they shouldn't. But she never reacted to the kids doing anything like that. She was amazing with the children and a great part of the family.
“She never caused us any problems at all. She was always super easy, unbelievably loyal. She never made any noise around the house, she never did anything for your attention. But it's just really weird when she's not in the house. It feels a lot quieter, even though she wasn't a dog that barked a lot.”
When it comes to woofing matters, the same can’t be said for Maggie May’s brother. Yet, one can hardly blame Rusty for stubbornly voicing his emotions. If anything, he’s brilliantly living up to the person Murray named him after, the tenacious Lleyton Hewitt—or “Rusty,” a nickname first bestowed on the two-time major singles champion by Darren Cahill.
“If there's any sound, like a car, or he spots a deer or something, [Rusty]'s barking and making a lot of noise. And if he wants his food, he's always whinging,” laughs Murray.
This week, Murray and Hewitt are both in Newport, R.I. for different reasons. The Brit is competing at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open, while the Aussie is in town for his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) after COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented the Adelaide native from attending the Class of 2021 ceremony. It’s no secret that Hewitt was one of Murray’s strongest influences—Rusty is a case in point. Beyond the supreme returning and quickness around the court Hewitt displayed in countering players with heavier shot-making and cannons for serves, his competitive spirit is the gift that stood out—and still resonates—with Murray today.
“I loved how passionate he was on the court and his energy, how much it meant to him to win matches. He always showed that he really cared about it,” says Murray.
“Tennis, at times, is considered to be a gentlemen's sport, and when someone shows emotion, throws their racquet or gets upset, people frown upon it and stuff. That was just one of the things that I loved about Lleyton, is that he was a bit different in that respect. He didn't mind getting into a fight on the court and leaving it all out there. Sometimes it rubbed players the wrong way, but at the end of the day, when you're out there, you're out there trying to win. I'd much rather that someone was like that than the other way.”
At 35, Murray is channeling his own version of Hewitt’s inspirational whatever-it-takes mantra. Three and a half years on from a radical right hip resurfacing, he’s reached a pair of ATP 250 finals in 2022, contributing to halving his ranking from this point a year ago. At his latest event, the world No. 52 has posted contrasting wins en route to the quarterfinals. Murray first navigated heavy wind in a 55-minute demolition of Sam Querrey, before fighting his way through brutal summer heat and unconventional slicing off both wings from Max Purcell for a three-set victory.
An “unpredictable” clash with Alexander Bublik, whom Murray has defeated twice in three meetings already in 2022, has the No. 6 seed focused for whatever comes his way Friday.
Newport’s work environment has helped with preparations, too. Competitors can walk to and from the site or stroll around town for dinner. Hassles in booking practice courts are nonexistent. With a site built precisely for tennis, stress floats out to sea.
“Often when we're in the big cities, like New York for example, you spend a lot of your day in the car traveling around. It feels a little bit like time wasted. Whereas at events like these, everything is really convenient. So it feels like you can get quite a lot done in the day. It's a bit more relaxing,” he expresses. “Playing in places like this, it's just a bit of a different feel. There's a little bit more history to it. I feel like a lot of the fans that come to watch are tennis players or people that play the sport. I love playing at tennis clubs. It’s more intimate.”
He didn't mind getting into a fight on the court and leaving it all out there. Sometimes it rubbed players the wrong way, but at the end of the day, when you're out there, you're out there trying to win. I'd much rather that someone was like that than the other way. —Andy Murray on Lleyton Hewitt
Much has changed with Murray since he was last here 16 years ago: Three major titles, two Olympic gold medals, a Davis Cup trophy and No. 1 ranking are among the accolades added to his name. His perspective of the ITHF has evolved as well, with a deeper appreciation for the careful detail work that goes into showcasing the history of his sport. He toured the museum last weekend, where shoes from his major breakthrough at the 2012 US Open are currently being displayed. On the subject of preservation, I asked which match he would throw into a time capsule to best sum up Andy Murray the competitor. His answer was on brand.
“That's a good question. Maybe the final of the  Olympics against [Juan Martin] Del Potro. That was an unbelievable battle. In my career, whether it's been competing at Wimbledon in front of a home crowd, or competing for my country in Davis Cup and the Olympics, if I felt I was playing for more than myself, that's when I performed my best,” Murray says.
“Although I probably played better tennis at the Olympics in 2012, that Del Potro match was great with an amazing atmosphere. Both of us left it all out there and it ultimately ended with another gold medal for Great Britain.”
Like Hewitt before him, Murray will eventually hang up his racquet. Whenever that time comes, the tennis community will endure the loss of seeing a courageous champion compete. Yet, there will be comfort in knowing his legacy will undeniably be enshrined in Newport one day. He carries Maggie May’s vote.