It’s now half a year since that glorious July afternoon when Andy Murray made history by becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years, but for Murray the magnitude of the achievement has only begun to sink in over the past few months.
“Everything that happened after was a bit surreal and strange,” Murray admitted earlier this week during preparations for Britain’s crucial Davis Cup tie against the USA.
“But then I went away on holiday, and for a week or ten days I had a chance to sort of think about it and relax and I didn't have any other commitments and stuff.”
However as soon as he returned from the Bahamas, Murray was once again bombarded with attention and with the summer hard-court swing almost upon him, he had to rapidly get back into training to prepare for the defence of his US Open title.
So it wasn’t until the autumn, as he convalesced from surgery, that he was able to indulge in a period of quiet reflection.
“After the US Open I had more time,” he said. “After Davis Cup I had the surgery on my back so I was at home a lot, too.
That was probably the time to sort of take everything in. The last 18 months has gone very, very quickly. A lot has happened and changed. It was great to be able to look back and reflect on things and look forward to the future.”
Murray has never really welcomed the attention that comes with his profile as one of Britain’s leading athletes.
During the course of his career he initially almost resented it but as time has passed, he’s grown to accept it as part and parcel of his life.
“In some ways it's nice,” he said. “It's recognition for when you put in all the hard work, so getting that recognition for winning at a sport that you love and you have dedicated a lot of time to, that's nice.
But when you're away from the court sometimes you obviously like it when it's a little bit quieter as well. But this is something you deal with as an athlete. It becomes part of your job. It's no real issue.”
Murray’s lengthy struggle to join Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among tennis’ serial major winners has been one of the more heart-warming stories in the sport in recent years, after spending so long as the game’s nearly man.
And after a number of heart-breaking defeats at Wimbledon at the hands of Nadal in particular, and Federer, it’s no wonder that he still finds it hard to summarise his feelings at finally getting his name on the honours board at the All England Club.
“It takes a long time to kind of explain all of the things I felt,” he said.
“I mean, that's the ultimate achievement. It’s what you put in the effort in for. That's what you put the hours in for. I had been working towards that for a long, long time. I had come close quite a few times and had near misses.
All those experiences made me want it more. I wanted to win more.”
At times that burning desire to win, not just for himself but for his close-knit team who had been with him for so many years through all the highs and lows, threatened to become a little all-consuming, to the detriment of his chances.
Murray admits that his first three Grand Slam final defeats affected him deeply and after Australian Open losses to Federer (2010) and Djokovic (2011), his form went into an alarming slump. It taking him almost four months to move on mentally from those matches but this all changed with the appointment of Ivan Lendl in 2012.
Murray became better at internalizing his emotions on-court as well as processing and relieving them from his system after especially crushing defeats.
It was that which resulted in the transformation from nearly man, to Grand Slam champion.
“The last few years my ranking has been in the top 4, 5 in the world but making the breakthrough at the majors was obviously something that I wanted to try and do,” Murray said.
“That’s why I made changes to my coaching setup. Ivan Lendl helped me a lot with my mentality going into those big matches. I just kept working hard. That was it. Just kept and training hard and trying to improve and find new ways to get better.
I managed to do that, so now I need to make sure I continue to put in the effort if I want to try and win more and stay at the top of the game. Every year it gets harder and harder.”