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“I wish I could play forever,” Murray says tearfully as he says goodbye to Wimbledon

Andy Murray got off to a losing start in his farewell match at Wimbledon on Thursday, openly crying in front of his adoring fans before admitting: “I wish I could play forever.”

Murray, two-time Wimbledon singles champion, and his brother Jamie lost in the first round of the men's doubles to Australians Rinky Hijikata and John Peers 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.

It was the first episode of a three-part series about the 37-year-old's retirement – before he ends his career at the Olympic Games in Paris, he is scheduled to compete in the mixed doubles with Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon.

After having a metal hip replacement fitted in 2019, sustaining an ankle injury this year and undergoing surgery to remove a cyst on his spine that ruled him out of singles play at Wimbledon, Murray has now reluctantly accepted that fate has put its hand in his hands.

In his career he has won three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals, a Davis Cup and the number one spot in the world rankings.

“It's hard because I would like to keep playing but I can't. Physically it's too hard now, all the injuries have added up and they were not insignificant,” he said.

– “Love the sport” –

“I want to play forever, I love the sport and it has given me so much. I've learned a lot of lessons over the years that I can use for the rest of my life. I don't want to stop, so it's tough.”

Tears flowed as numerous stars, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, expressed their appreciation to Murray via video.

His long-time rival Novak Djokovic was courtside and witnessed Murray's emotional evening in the spotlight.

“It was obviously very special to play with Jamie,” added Murray.

“We've never had the chance (at Wimbledon) but the way things turned out, there was a chance.

“It was quite a race to get here. Physically it wasn't easy, but I'm glad we did it.”

Murray received a standing ovation as he walked onto Centre Court alongside his brother, 15 months older than him and who has won two Grand Slam men's doubles titles.

Up in the players' box, his family, including mother Judy, father William, wife Kim and two of his children, joined in the applause.

The famous arena has witnessed some of Murray's most dramatic moments.

His tearful final defeat against Roger Federer in 2012 was followed just a few weeks later by the Olympic gold medal.

“I don't claim to be the most outgoing or lively person, but I think people probably saw for the first time how much I care about the sport,” Murray said of that defeat against the Swiss.

In 2013, Murray won his first Wimbledon title, ending a 77-year wait for a British champion to win the men's tournament, and added another three years later.

On Thursday, the former world number one was greeted with ecstatic applause when he announced his serve.

– 'Let's go!' –

Not surprisingly, Murray appeared stiff in his movements, which was not helped by the freezing temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit).

The brothers had a set point in the first set, but they were unable to convert it.

Hijikata made them pay with a driving forehand shot through the middle of the court when it was his turn to convert his team's set point.

“Let’s go,” shouted Andy Murray as he and Jamie fended off break points on his serve in the opening game of the second set.

Murray had pulled a face when he was having trouble serving – when he won, he punched the air defiantly.

Moments later, Murray treated his fans to his trademark nerve-wracking roar that has regularly echoed across Centre Court for nearly two decades as he took a 2-0 lead with a winning forehand in the second set.

However, the euphoria was short-lived as left-hander Jamie was broken.

Peers unintentionally hit Andy Murray's body with a violent forehand and immediately apologized.

Jamie dropped his serve again as the Australian pair took a 4-3 lead, with Hijikata finally sealing the win with a deft backhand shot down the middle.

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