Original traveller: what does Andy Murray have up his sleeve next?
He’s proved himself (time and time again) on the court but, as he gears up for this year’s Wimbledon, tennis champ Sir Andy Murray plans to ace the business world. Tim Hulse meets the tennis pro turned entrepreneur
“The biggest issue for most athletes is you spend a third of your life not preparing for the next two-thirds,” the former tennis champion Andre Agassi once observed. “One day your entire way of life comes to an end. It’s a kind of death.”
His words have increasing relevance for another tennis great, Andy Murray, who, at the age of 36, is starting to contemplate his own sporting mortality. As you read this, Murray, fitness allowing, will be at Wimbledon, hoping to add a third men’s title to his collection. But, win or lose, he’s aware that the twilight of his playing days is nearing.
“It’s only in the last 18 months or so that I’ve started to think about my future after tennis,” he tells High Life. “I’ve heard stories from ex-players and other athletes who’ve made no plans for retiring, and they finish and all of a sudden it’s, ‘What am I going to do with myself?’”
Which is why, in April of this year, Murray found himself at a meeting in the west London offices of IMG, the multinational sports, events, media and fashion company. Sitting around a table with him were a dozen or so of IMG’s experts in different fields, and top of the day’s agenda was Murray himself. Or, more specifically, What Happens Next.
“I was chatting to them about things that I might want to get involved in or really don’t want to get involved in, just starting to get a few ideas together,” says Murray. Note to TV executives: in the ‘really don’t want to get involved’ column is commentary-booth punditry.
Murray tried it once at Wimbledon and found himself co-commentating on a four-hour match between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro. Not only did he find himself occasionally struggling to find things to say, but he also missed a dinner appointment. He says he won’t be doing it again.
Which doesn’t mean Murray is aiming for some sort of stress-free, comfy retirement of punctual dinners interspersed with the odd round of golf. As his long-term manager Matt Gentry puts it: “He’s not the sort of person who’ll want to sit around doing nothing for long.”
There will be plenty of things to keep him occupied. For a start, Murray will have more time to spend supporting his favourite charities. He’s long been a global ambassador for both Unicef and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and his efforts go way beyond merely being a spokesperson. Last March, for example, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he announced that he would donate his whole year’s prize money, via Unicef, to help aid efforts for displaced Ukrainian children. The final total he handed over was $630,000, and he received an Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in recognition of his efforts.
When it comes to his future, Murray says that making money isn’t the main priority: “I’m looking for something I’m really passionate about and that I want to work really hard at to achieve a specific goal.” One area that ticks that box is coaching, but not necessarily in tennis. Football is a sport that attracts him – he likes to watch it and has previously been involved in a couple of unsuccessful bids for football clubs that would have seen him taking a small stake. He’s interested in getting involved on the coaching side in the game – and he’s aware that he’d have to start at the bottom and work his way up. But he doesn’t see that as a problem.
“I’m looking for something I’m really passionate about and that I want to work really hard at to achieve a specific goal”
Another passion for Murray is investing. He has a substantial stake in Castore, the British sportswear brand, which produces a tennis label under his name, and he’d like to dedicate more time to working with the company. He’s also one of the biggest shareholders in Game4Padel, a company that’s trying to boost enthusiasm in the UK for padel, a fast-growing sport that’s a cross between tennis and squash. And Murray has put money into TMRW Sports, a venture launched by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy that aims to revolutionise traditional sports, starting with golf.
Outside of the sports arena, Murray has a long association with Seedrs, the UK crowdfunding platform, and over the years he’s invested in a wide range of British startups. Gentry suggests that this is an area that Murray could perhaps develop, citing the example of Serena Williams, whose Serena Ventures VC fund, launched in 2017, focuses on investing in early-stage companies. “There’s no reason he couldn’t do something like that, given the sort of credibility he has in the early stage space,” Gentry says.
Then there’s Murray’s hospitality venture. In 2013, he bought Cromlix, a luxury Scottish country house hotel close to the town of Dunblane, where he grew up. Earlier this year, he and his wife Kim (mainly Kim, he admits) oversaw a refurbishment of the main house and its 15 rooms. Planning applications are also in for nine additional cabins around the nearby loch, with construction scheduled for later this year. Murray says he’s looking forward to being able to spend more time there – and also at his Surrey home, with his family and dogs.
But probably not for too long. You get the feeling that ‘Andy Murray: The Afterlife’ has plenty of twists and turns still to come. “I’ll definitely want to keep busy,” he says. Watch this space.
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