into your inbox
Thousands have already subscribedy
Andy Murray meets freed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: ‘Watching you win Wimbledon brought me close to home’
The three-time Grand Slam champion was audibly emotional as he talked to the woman who spent six years in an Iranian jail
Britain’s Andy Murray was stunned on a special episode of BBC Radio Four’s Today programme when he spoke to guest editor Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was detained for six years in an Iranian prison.
And she told him that after some months without any media, in 2016 she had been permitted to watch television, meaning that she was able to follow his road to a second Wimbledon trophy.
“They had no idea what they had given me,” she said during their meeting at Roehampton Tennis Centre. “I can’t tell you how joyful it was. I was ecstatic to see you win and to think that [one day] I will get out and find your email and write you an email and say, ‘I’m very, very proud, you have no idea where I watched you!'”
She added: “It felt like an escape, I was close to home all of a sudden.”
“That’s made me quite emotional hearing you speaking about that,” replied Murray.
“When I won Wimbledon in 2013, the first time, I didn’t really enjoy it as an experience. I was so relieved that I’d managed to win that event and I felt like there was lots of pressure on me to do that. Afterwards I didn’t make the most of it, I was pulled in lots of different directions, I wasn’t spending time with the people I wanted to in that moment.
“In 2016 that was the best moment I’ve had on a tennis court. I said to my team after I won in 2013, ‘If I ever do this again I want to enjoy it properly, I want to be around my family and friends.'”
Murray: Now I understand what’s important in life
Zaghari-Ratcliffe asked if he found the weight of expectation during his career difficult to deal with, and the former world No 1 agreed.
“When I was younger I wasn’t well prepared for that at all, I struggled a lot with that, I was quite shy growing up and I struggled with everything that came with the sport. As I’ve got older, and understood the things that are really important in life, I’ve managed to cope with everything that comes with tennis a bit better.”
The two also discussed the intertwining of sport and politics, and Murray highlighted the prize money equality between male and female players as one of the elements of tennis he is proudest of.
“One of the things that is fantastic about tennis as a sport is you have men and women competing in the biggest competitions on the same stage. I’m a big fan of equal prize money. This is very rare in the other major sports and it’s something I feel we should celebrate a lot more. It causes controversy, it causes arguments rather than it being viewed positively. For me, that’s one of tennis’s biggest selling points.”
Murray had the chance to put his own questions to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, asking her about what daily life was like during her incarceration, and asking whether she felt angry about her experiences.
“We all have our own problems,” said Murray, “but listening to you, speaking to you, certainly makes me a lot more grateful for everything that I’ve got.”