The world of professional tennis has produced some of the population’s most eccentric and unique individuals. You have Rafael Nadal, a man who is so quirky it’d be no surprise if he began a new ritual of performing ‘Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…)’ before each match. There’s also Serena Williams, one of the sport’s fiercest competitors who, after stating her intentions to retire, almost immediately did a 360, promising to return to the sport soon after realising she simply couldn’t give it up. But out of all of these personalities, no one’s managed to capture our gen Z hearts quite like Scottish supernova Andy Murray, and I think I know why—because he’s secretly one of us.
Born in Glasgow in 1987, Murray quickly rose through the ranks of competitive tennis, and by the time he was 23, he’d established himself as one the big four—alongside Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Now, despite the fact that Murray is currently 35, thereby pushing him into the millennial bracket, I think—deep down—he’s about as gen Z as they come. In tribute to his deliciously spectacular performances during the 2023 Australian Open, here are a few reasons why Murray should be embraced as the truly chaotic gen Z icon he really is.
Both overt and covert sexism still exists within the realm of professional sport. Often, male players either fail to identify casual sexism among fellow insiders, or they choose to simply ignore it. Murray on the other hand, has a certified track record of shutting down misogyny on a regular basis—how very gen Z of him.
For example, in 2017, Murray was defeated in the quarter-final of the Wimbledon Championships by American player Sam Querrey. During the post-match interview, a reporter began to ask the Scottish tennis player a question, beginning by stating: “Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009,” but before he could continue, Murray immediately butted in, noting “male player.” This was obviously in reference to the fact that Venus Williams had already reached that title.
Moreover, Murray repeatedly defended his coach Amélie Mauresmo after she joined his team and faced swathes of sexist remarks from both the public and the professional tennis community. According to The Independent, Australian tennis player Marinko Matosevic described the star’s decision to hire a female coach as “politically correct,” adding: “Someone’s got to give it a go. It won’t be me.”
In response, Murray wrote a column in French sports paper L’Equipe, which was also published on his website, in which he defended his coach and declared himself a feminist. The Scotsman explained that his former male coaches never had to deal with the same level of scrutiny as Mauresmo—particularly after he lost matches.
Is there anything more gen Z than vocalising your emotions in the most dramatic way humanly possible? I don’t think so. We all love a king who can comfortably express himself while in the middle of a Grand Slam tournament. Now, of course, Murray isn’t the first—nor will he be the last—tennis player to lose his composure on the court. However, it’s the way in which he does it that makes me truly believe he is a gen Zer deep down inside.
More often than not, Murray laments at himself about missing a shot or making a mistake, repeatedly shouting “oh my god” or “are you kidding me?” as he stares at his tennis racket, willing it to magically win every point. Naturally, he almost always subsequently begins to smash things up after the eventual defeat—his racket, a water bottle, his bag, anything he can get his hands on really.
Murray’s stated how he’s been heavily criticised in the past for “showing too much emotion” on the court, and expressing himself mid-match. Personally, I can’t get enough of it.
Now, not to sound biassed, but I believe gen Z is one of the funniest and wittiest generations out there. We have a knack for turning pretty much anything into a joke, and we’ve been aided with the likes of TikTok and Twitter—all culminating in an online community of feral memes and sometimes slightly disturbing videos created solely to make us giggle.
One of the most recurring aspects of gen Zers humour is sarcasm. Considering the fact gen Z represents a generation confronted with the likes of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Andrew Tate—we’ve found ways to maximise irony in the face of pure chaos. And if there’s one thing Murray excels in, it’s sarcasm. You only have to complete a quick YouTube search to find countless curated compilations praising the player’s comedic timing and dry wit.
Murray’s also participated in a wealth of comedy specials—Outnumbered, Mock The Week and Michael McIntyre’s Midnight Game Show to name a few. He encourages others to laugh at him and have fun, something gen Zers are notorious for.
His appearance during the 2014 Sport Relief may have to be my favourite Murray moment. During a segment titled Andy Murray—what he really thinks, the player was tasked with reading off a list of statements while comedian Hugh Dennis contemplated what the subtext to those words might really be. In one example, Murray read out, “Tennis has enabled me to achieve things I could never have dreamt of,” which Dennis rephrased as, “Have you seen my girlfriend, eh?”
We salute you Murray, for all you’ve done for the tennis community, and all you continue to do for the entertainment and general merriment of gen Zers everywhere.