After losing Sunday's Wimbledon final match against Roger Federer, Andy Murray kept the crowd applauding him as he got emotional in his conciliatory address. He began by stating that getting his thoughts out would be difficult, as tears streamed down his face. At that, the audience of 15,000 only erupted in even louder applause for 40 seconds before giving Murray their full attention. That moment of raw emotion was a welcomed addition to tennis's biggest annual event. It was the perfect way to end the tournament and it left Murray as the bigger topic of conversation after the finals.
Although athletes do their best to seem tough on the field, we've also seen our fair share of crying over the years. Most often it's when players are announcing their retirement (Favre, Gretzky, Agassi) or are celebrating a long-awaited championship (Jordan, Tiger, Federer). At those times of tribute and glory, these tears represent lofty achievements and profound triumph.
Less common, though, are tears after suffering a loss. Most recently, Kevin Durant cried with his mother after a Game 5 loss to the Heat last month.
For commentators, this crying episode reflected Durant's intensity and drive to win. He's bound to get his own title eventually with emotion like that. Let's not forget, however, how people reacted in March 2011 amid reports that members of the Heat were crying in the locker room during a disappointing stretch. At the time, it led to speculation about which player was the guilty party and to ridicule from other players.
Perhaps the news was received differently then because it was a blind item, or maybe it wasn't deemed a large enough game -- and moment -- to warrant tears. It could also be that everything the Heat did during that season was wrong just because they were the Heat. All in all, the timing of the tears seems to matter most in how we perceive them.
During a 2006 NCAA tournament game, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison's was seen crying on the floor at midcourt following a heartbreaking loss to UCLA. Opinion was split on how to take this high-profile breakdown. "The writers made Morrison's tears seem rather noble, a manifestation of how much he cared," said C.W. Nevius in the San Francisco Chronicle. "But in the office and on the street, others were not so charitable. Morrison was a big crybaby." Had Morrison played his heart out for another two seconds and not appeared to fold up before his fate was sealed, he may have survived public opinion.
Murray doesn't face this same threat. His tears showed something admirable after his match: his humanity and good grace. Much like Durant, Murray will try to use his heartwrenching second place finish to motivate him to go all the way the next time around. And the fans, who won't soon forget it, will definitely be behind him.