There are moments in sporting time that on reflection appear even harder to make sense of even though you were there when it happened. As Andy Murray was heading towards a first Grand Slam tennis title by winning the US Open in 2012, a press conference took place that made as many headlines as his play on court.
The assembled press corps was in the cavernous media room under the tallest stands in world tennis listening to the British Number 1 talk us through his latest victory when we were greeted with the sight of Sir Sean Connery appearing alongside the podium accompanied by Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager. Here were three great Scots and eventually they would all be Knighted by the Queen. For now it was just Sirs Connery and Ferguson, who had both obviously been enjoying the court-side hospitality at the Flushing Meadows tennis complex in the Queens area of New York.
Connery had been watching Murray beat Tomas Berdych 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 to reach the final of the US Open for a second time, and strolled into the post-match interview for what was no more than brief chat where Ferguson boasted about the dominance of Scots. The bizarre but amusing chat started by Connery introducing Ferguson and then asking Murray’s mother Judy to join him at the front of the room.
“Excuse me for interrupting," said the former 007 actor, "but I just wanted to make a point, where’s Alex? I don’t know where your mother is, ah there she is."
“Come on Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy.” When Judy finally got to the stage, Murray claimed he could tell his mum had been drinking, with the British Federation Cup captain instantly attributing the blame on Ferguson. “You smell of wine," said the 25-year-old Murray to his mum. “He [nodding at Ferguson] made me have wine, he’s just been telling me that Scotland invented the world,” replied Judy.
The incident was over in minutes but left a deep impression on everyone in that room because it was so very strange. The US Open, like every Grand Slam, has tight security which keeps everyone without the right accreditation from getting anywhere near the players area and the media rooms. But, here was 007 penetrating the inner sanctum accompanied by a red-faced football manager and the giggling mother of one of the top seeds. Totally bizarre!
Murray went on to win the title by beating defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in the final watched by Ferguson who then sprinted to get to his waiting car to make his flight back to the UK from JFK which can be easily reached from the tennis centre. It was a fittingly strange end to one of the most memorable British tennis triumphs.
Memory added on February 16, 2021
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