This one is forever. For Andy Murray. For Britain. It took forever.
It lasts forever.
Andy Murray is the Wimbledon champion. How many times has he heard that in his head over the years? How many times has he told himself he'd never be there? He beat Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 on Sunday. He is the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
When Murray jumped into the crowd to thank everyone, hug everyone, high-five, the way Wimbledon champs do, he stood on the ledge and stopped to wave to the crowd. I hadn't seen that before. They've been there for him. (He also forgot to hug his Mom, and had to come back for her).
"I did forget her,'' he said. "I just heard her squealing when I tried to get down.''
Understand that for the Brits, this is like the Boston Red Sox finally winning the World Series. It would be like the Chicago Cubs. . . well, let's be serious.
Sometimes, it seems impossible breaking forever, making forever.
And the thing about tennis is that you see these guys so personally, so up close. They stand there on the court, alone, for hours and hours, fighting. They don't talk to anyone that long (other than Murray's screaming at his coaches, or his mom). There are no helmets, no timeouts, no teammates.
Nowhere to hide.
So we've seen Murray in tears. We've seen him duped by Roger Federer, when Federer noted that there is no pressure on him, but that it was all on Murray. And of course, that was a way to make Murray think about it, feel it, which he did.
But he kept growing.
Over the years, you should have seen it here. Sure, you've seen the crowds mobbing Henman Hill, or Murray Mound, whatever you want to call it. I remember once, as I stood in the way back on that hill, watching Murray on the big screen, a woman asked if she could sit on my shoulders.
A few minutes later, another woman asked.
So we've seen the Brit fans have their journey together with him. The tabloids used to be covered with stories and pictures of him. Every year. There was tension.
The Brits have a national pessimism about pretty much everything, and I think they never truly, deeply thought that he was going to do this. They hoped. Oh, did they hope. And you mix strong wishes with strong doubts and it's painful.
Honestly, I think this partnership turned at the London Olympics last year. The Brits all thought the Olympics would be a disaster. And Murray had just lost a Wimbledon final to Federer.
He cried afterward in front of the crowd. Remember? He said:
"I'm getting closer.''
He was fully ready for another one of his post-major final meltdowns. In the past, it had bothered him for months, torn him up. After Wimbledon last year, he could barely stomach the thought of practicing, but the Olympics were coming.
And then he found that the fans had fallen for him because of those tears. They weren't crushing him for the loss, but felt sympathy for his journey.
He was motivated.
Then the Olympics came, and the tabloids couldn't devote their entire papers to him. Pressure relieved even more. Frankly, the Games relieved the Brits' pressure, too.
So he won gold. And the Olympics were a smashing success overall.
It was safe to believe.
Murray took that to the US Open, where he beat Djokovic in the final for his first major title.
Yes, he had his major. But he needed Wimbledon.
Now, during this past week, he didn't feel any less pressure, but that wasn't true. He did. He was writing columns for BBC, he had let cameras into his home to show his personal life.
And when he had tight matches, like the one against Fernando Verdasco, he didn't stress out, didn't fall apart.
Murray just looked different the whole two weeks. He was a champion now.
But he still had one more hurdle on Sunday. And really, this was a physically brutal match, but Murray was always on top. Djokovic was a little spent from his semifinal marathon against Juan Martin del Potro.
The question with Murray, and with the Brits, was whether they really, deep down could believe. They knew when Federer and Rafael Nadal lost early that Murray should reach the final.
But this was different. Murray was rolling on Sunday, and then, just when everyone let down their guard, Djokovic started coming back. It was stress on Murray that was starting to get to him.
In the last game, he was up 40-0, with three championship points. Djokovic got it back to deuce. But he finally won it, of course.
"I don't know how I managed to come through that last game,'' Murray said. "It was unbelievable.''
It was forever.