On Sunday before yet another mens final,the fans in their broad-brimmed hats and sunscreen stopped to take pictures and pay tennis tribute to the bronze statue of Fred Perry,which stands just outside Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Perry,a debonair Englishman,won the last of his three Wimbledon singles titles in 1936. But by late afternoon,with the shadows extending across the most important and historic court in tennis,Perry no longer stood alone.
Andy Murray,a 26-year-old Scotsman,put a convincing end to a 77-year drought for the British men at the tournament that matters most to British men and their public. Murray did it by defeating Serbias Novak Djokovic,the No. 1 seed,without the loss of a set: 6-4,7-5,6-4.
Lets Make History, read one of the many signs being waved inside Centre Court on this steamy day.
And so Murray,long frustrated and even driven to tears by losing last years final,proceeded to do just that. He did it by proving better in the clutch and on the run than Djokovic,the games premier defender and marathon man. Murray did it by rallying from a break of serve down in the last two sets and then shrugging off the loss of three match points and a 40-0 lead in the final game on his own serve.
He kept pushing,kept trying,as so many British men with lesser skills have tried through the decades,but this time the ending was different.
On Murrays fourth match point,Djokovic hit a two-handed backhand into the tape,and the final,with that burst of sound,was over.
After such a lengthy vigil,it was reasonable to expect something extraordinary: a rainbow; a back flip; a spontaneous,perfectly pitched God Save the Queen from the Centre Court crowd.
But the celebration tinged with relief bore instead a strong resemblance to many other celebrations of recent years.
After Djokovics backhand struck the net,Murray stripped off his cap,pumped his fists and then shook hands with Djokovic,an old friend and rival,before climbing into the players box to embrace his family and friends,nearly forgetting his mother and boyhood coach,Judy Murray,before reversing course and hugging her,too.
Then came the on-court interview,where Murray had broken down,microphone in hand,after losing a lead and the final to Roger Federer last year.
It feels slightly different to last year, began Murray,proving that understatement extends to Scotland,as well. Last year was one of the toughest moments of my career,so to manage to win the tournament today,it was an unbelievably tough match. So many long games,and I dont know how I managed to come through that final game.
He then spoke of Djokovic.
Ive played Novak many times,and I think when everyone is finished playing hes going to go down as one of the biggest fighters, Murray said. Hes come back so many times from losing positions,and he almost did the same again today. So that made it extra tough,and I dont know how I managed to squeeze through in the end.
It has not been 77 years since a British player won at Wimbledon. Virginia Wade won the womens singles titles in 1977 (the sevens were a numerologists feast Sunday).
But the British men from Bunny Austin to Tim Henman kept swinging and missing until Murray finally arrived: a once-in-a-generation talent from the unlikely tennis destination of Dunblane,Scotland. It is a small city better known for tragedy than victory until Murrays achievements because of a massacre at Murrays own primary school in 1996 in which a gunman shot and killed 16 students,all 5 or 6,and one of their teachers.
Murray has rarely discussed the episode,but it has been a subtle driving force for him and his tennis family,which includes his older brother Jamie,once a leading doubles player,and their mother Judy,a former professional player who is now Britains Fed Cup captain.
Its just nice that Ive been able to do something that the town is just proud of, Andy Murray said,between tears,in a BBC television documentary about his life that was broadcast shortly before these championships.
But Murray is now making a habit of making all of Britain proud,and if Sundays final seemed to lack the full-force emotional impact that a 77-year wait would suggest,that is also because of Murrays achievements in the past year.
Only a few weeks after losing in last years Wimbledon final,he came back to win the Olympic gold medal on the same stretch of lawn at the All England Club. A few weeks after that,he won his first Grand Slam singles title after four straight losses in finals at the United States Open.