SHEFFIELD’s own Wimbledon champion Jonny Marray enjoyed a hero’s welcome home after securing his place in the history books.
And he certainly knows his life has changed - for a start, he’d never before had a reception at his home tennis club like the one that awaited him last night!
The 31-year-old, the first British man to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles title since 1936, was given a special homecoming party at Hallamshire Tennis and Squash Club at Hunter’s Bar where he has been a member since he was a youngster and where elder brother Dave is head coach.
He took his newly-acquired silverware to show off to fellow members and friends, and said the last week had been the best of his life.
“It’s impossible, really, to sum up what this win means because I remember watching Wimbledon on television as a youngster and now, here I am, a Wimbledon champion,” Jonny told The Star.
“I’m very proud to have got my name on that trophy and, whatever else happens, I will always be able to say I was a Wimbledon champion.
“I’ve heard people say it was a fairytale and I’d definitely agree with that.
“I’ve been playing tennis for a long time and had the privilege to play at Wimbledon on many occasions, but that was the finest day of my career.”
It was a career under threat at one stage after shoulder surgery five years ago. And Jonny admits it crossed his mind, as results dipped, that he might pack in - but he said it never went further than a thought.
They spotted his talent early at Hallamshire where he won the club’s Under 12s singles title back in 1993.
“I’ve been asked how the Wimbledon win will change my life and I don’t really know - it’s all still sinking in really,” added Jonny who will now find himself automatically invited to all Grand Slam tennis events.
The city is to honour his achievement. Sheffield Council has confirmed it will host a civic reception, the details for which are still being decided.
Tom Murton, facilities manager at Hallamshire Tennis and Squash Club, said: “The bar here was packed out on Saturday night for the men’s doubles final. We were all on the edges of our seats. All our members are absolutely ecstatic. We’re so proud.
“He’s an inspiration to our juniors. He coaches some of the younger ones with Dave to help them progress to the next level.”
And those who helped him along the way have revealed Jonny’s sporting abilities extended far beyond the court, remembering him as a promising footballer, too. Despite having a 138mph serve during his final years at All Saints High School, Granville Road, Sheffield, staff were also impressed with his soccer skills.
Bob Sawyer, headteacher at All Saints, said: “Jonathan was with us from Year 7 to Year 13 and left us in 1999. He was a very well-liked, popular pupil who was talented academically and a good all-round sportsman. He was good at cricket and football,
particularly football. He was very good at it. There are several staff here who worked with him and remember him.
“One of our teachers, Dr Hoey, once told him he would have to decide between chemistry and tennis. Obviously we’re now very glad he opted for tennis.”