In Depth

Is Andy Murray the greatest British sportsman ever?

With a second Wimbledon title under his belt, we look at how the Scot compares to some of his sporting rivals

Where does Andy Murray stand in the pantheon of British sporting greatness after his second triumph at Wimbledon? The pundits agree that he deserves a place among the elite, but the debate is now raging over whether he is the finest sportsman this country has ever produced.

"When he won his second title at the All England Club with his majestic 6-4 7-6 7-6 straight-sets win, the Scotsman laid claim not only to be the best British sporting practitioner of his generation," says Jim White in the Daily Telegraph. "He did something more than that: he made a bold bid to be recognised as our finest ever."

Deciding whether he is or not is purely an opinion, says David Anderson in the Daily Mirror, who notes that comparing the Victorian cricketer WG Grace with the 21st century footballer Gareth Bale can never be a matter of fact.

But even he agrees that Murray is "certainly among the serious contenders" to be called the greatest British sportsman of all time.

So how does he fare against some of his rivals for the accolade?

Steve Redgrave:

The five-time Olympic champion is Murray's "main challenger for the ultimate accolade" believes Jim White of the Telegraph. His dominance of rowing between 1984 and 2000 makes him "not just Britain’s greatest sportsperson but arguably the world’s greatest Olympian", adds Martyn Ziegler of The Times. "He achieved his success in three different rowing disciplines and without the technological advances that British rowers have benefited from in recent Games. Even more astonishing is the fact that he achieved his physical feats despite having diabetes."

Lewis Hamilton:

The F1 world champion may feel a touch aggrieved that his record-equalling fourth victory in the British Grand Prix was so routine that it was overshadowed by Murray's exploits. His playboy lifestyle also rubs people up the wrong way. "But don't fall into the trap of misunderstanding Hamilton," says Laurence Edmondson of ESPN. "At the core there remains a talented, determined and serious sportsman. At 31 years of age he is currently in his prime and on his way to a goal no other British driver has ever achieved: a fourth F1 world championship. He truly is on the verge of greatness."

Ian Botham:

In a game dominated by statistics Ian Botham brought something else to the table as well as some staggering numbers – personality. "He was a comic-book hero who could win a match single-handedly and drink everyone under the table afterwards," writes Matt Dickinson of the Times.

Mo Farah:

Commentator Brendan Foster excitedly dubbed him Britain's "greatest sportsman" last summer when he won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the World Championships, adding them to his Olympic and previous World titles. But he remains vastly "underrated" says Matt Hughes of the Times. "His dominance of the long distance events in one of the only two truly global sports... is utterly staggering and will never be matched by a Brit."

Bobby Moore:

England's current crop of footballers may not be up to much, but British sporting history is littered with brilliant players. So, asks website Sports Vibe, how do you single out one British footballer? "Easy. The man who lifted the world cup and who gained the respect of every international footballer. Greatest British defender and captain."

Bradley Wiggins:

Britain is not short of cycling heroes these days, with Chris Froome leading the Tour de France and Chris Hoy still regarded as one of the all time great track cyclists. But it's Wiggins who's the best Briton on two wheels, according to the Daily Mail. "Not just the first Briton to win sport's longest self-powered race, the Tour de France, but won four Olympic gold medals plus multiple world track and road golds too."

Nick Faldo:

The golfer won six major tournaments, but is really the best ever? Anderson of the Mirror is not convinced. "Faldo was not competing against Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in their prime which would have made him more easily comparable to Murray, who contested all his first 10 major finals against either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, probably the two greatest tennis players in history."

Andy Murray:

He may not have the same numbers as, say, Fred Perry, but "Murray is without peer in British sport because of the context in which his achievements are taking place", says Tony Barrett of The Times. "For Murray to not just hold his own in a field that includes Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but to thrive in that standard and win three grand slam titles puts him out on his own." 


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