Murray tailor made for Wimbledon success
The attention to detail at Monday’s launch of his Wimbledon whites even extended to Murray doing up the top button of his polo shirt, which, like his other clothes, references the classic Fred Perry kit of yesteryear. Murray, a 21st-century tennis player, will appear as if he has just stepped out of a sepia newsreel.
The clothes are going to be yet another reminder that Murray will be attempting to become the first British man to win Wimbledon in a very long time, since Perry in 1936.
So retro is making another comeback at this year’s Championships, which start on Monday. Over the last few years, Roger Federer’s walk-on outfits for Wimbledon’s Centre Court have included a Great Gatsby-style jacket, a pair of cream trousers and a cardigan.
But while Federer’s Nike jackets, trousers and cardigans seemed to have just been retro for the sake of being retro, a lot of history has gone into Murray’s Fred Perry whites.
Perry is both the last home champion at Wimbledon and the tennis icon who went on to form the company that now supplies Murray’s kit. If Perry were alive today, he would have turned 100 last month, and Murray’s centenary-year kit will see him competing in a classic 1950s-style polo shirt and a pair of tailored shorts.
Depending on the weather this summer, Murray could walk out on to the grass in either "an ivory knitted cable v-neck sweater" or a "white cotton tennis bomber jacket".
All the pieces have Murray’s initials stitched under the company’s laurel wreath logo. Perry used to give similarly bespoke and initialled polo shirts to clients such as John F Kennedy and Billie Jean King.
Just imagine the controversy this summer if Perry, who smoked a pipe, had stuck to his original choice of logo for his clothes, a pipe. The anti-smoking lobby would not have liked that one bit.
Murray, who has been with his clothing sponsors since 2004, will also have a white leather bag with him at Wimbledon. These days, the world No 3 does not so much wear Wimbledon outfits as launch them.
Still, it should be said that Murray looked far more self-conscious as a male model at the Tramshed, a converted industrial space in London’s Shoreditch, than he had done on a grass court on Sunday when he became the first British champion at Queen’s Club in 71 years.
Murray is dressed like Perry, so is he going to win like Perry as well? It used to be said of Perry that he was "a tennis player who dresses as well as he makes his shots", almost as if he were trying to out-dress his opponents before he outplayed them.
Perhaps it could be supposed that there is a danger that all this sartorial referencing of Perry’s past is only going to add to the expectation of those in the Wimbledon queues, on Centre Court, on ‘Henman Hill’ and on their sofas at home, that Murray is going to win the golden cup.
"The clothes look good," Murray said. "I can’t imagine that it’s going to make any difference to my performances on the court."
The great change from last year is not that Murray has gone from a plain T-shirt to a polo shirt, but that he has gone from being an outsider for the title to a contender, someone who is considered by the bookmakers to be the second favourite behind Roger Federer.
Away from Wimbledon, Murray’s tennis has regularly frustrated Federer, last year’s runner-up at the All England Club, and a five-time champion before that.
"A lot of the time after I have beaten him he has said negative things about my game. It doesn’t bother me that much. I think that my tactics work well against him," said Murray.
"If someone beats you I don’t think you can criticise the way they play. If they won against you, I think it’s fine to be critical of yourself, and to say that you didn’t play the best match, but it’s always fair to give your opponent the credit. I think I have a chance to beat him at Wimbledon if I play my best."
Even if Murray had been playing in regular kit this year, there still would have been comparisons between the Scot and Perry. A sheet was handed out at yesterday’s launch looking at how Britain and tennis have changed since 1936.
Tennis balls have gone from white to ‘optic yellow’, and while they used to have to chop down trees to make tennis rackets, now the frames are made out of graphite, carbon and titanium. Perhaps this will be the summer when Murray can stop everyone referencing the 1930s.
But Federer and Rafael Nadal are going to take some budging. Nadal has said he could play an exhibition match at London’s Hurlingham Club on Friday.
The Spaniard, the world No 1 and last summer’s Wimbledon champion, arrived in London yesterday. Murray will spend the rest of the week training and hitting balls, plus also taking a trip to the local go-kart track. After that, he is going to be putting on those Wimbledon whites again.
What could possibly be more retro at the All England Club this summer than a British man winning the title?
(C) The Telegraph Group, London, 2009