WASHINGTON, December 5, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Andy Murray: Resurfacing, a raw and emotional film detailing Andy Murray’s two-year injury journey – from hip resurfacing surgery to his remarkable 2019 comeback – debuted on Amazon Prime Video last Friday.
This extraordinary, one hour and 48 minute documentary directed by Olivia Cappuccini is a rollercoaster of emotions – pain, laughter, tears, smiles. It begins from Murray’s labral repair in January 2018 to his hip resurfacing surgery 12 months later and subsequent return to tennis, teaming with Feliciano Lopez to win the doubles title at Queen’s Club. Resurfacing hits many powerful highs and lows and is presented in chronological detail, from the Scotsman’s devastating injury through the surgical theaters with knives out to life at home, where Murray is revered as one of Great Britain’s greatest athletes.
“I was the No. 1 tennis player in the world – and I couldn’t walk,” recalls Murray, matter-of-factly, while sitting up in bed one day, filled with pain, as the cameras roll. Jump cut to the sad, tearful 2019 press conference at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where Murray says, “I have an option to have another operation.” This is not dramatization. This is raw and real.
“I feel like this is the end for me”
The moment @andy_murray felt his decorated career was coming to a close…
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 29, 2019
How much does tennis mean to Murray? Well, after hobbling off the court following a rain-delayed three-hour, three set victory over journeyman pro Marius Copil at the Citi Open in early August 2018, Murray sits sobbing uncontrollably into a towel. Tears of joy? Tears of pain? At first, it’s hard to tell which – maybe both? – until our ears can hear what our eyes are seeing. While only a few hundred fans remained at the end of the early-morning finish, the tearful, raw moment was broadcast on TV worldwide as it happened (where it was breakfast time in Great Britain) – and, soon after, the cry seen and heard ‘round the world went viral on social media and made headlines. Later, trying to fall asleep at 5 a.m., an introspective Murray expresses, “I really want to keep going, but my body is telling me ‘no’.”
In Resurfacing, we are reminded how every time Murray has faced adversity, he’s persevered. He’s always come back stronger. After all, as his older brother, Jamie, suggest on camera: “It’s not in his DNA to give up.”
Throughout the documentary, we get up close and personal with Murray, his family – wife Kim, mother Judy and brother Jamie – and his phenomenal support team that includes his coach, Jamie Delgado; physiotherapists Shane Annun and Mark Bender, and his physical trainer Mark Little. We witness Andy at his most vulnerable – hitting rock bottom at 3 a.m. in Washington, D.C. was harrowing to re-live – and we see why he puts himself through what he did in order to return to the sport he so dearly loves.
We learn that Murray’s mentality on court was shaped by his challenging childhood, growing up in Dunblane, Scotland, the scene of a horrific massacre that took the lives of 16 of his classmates in 1996.
”My feeling toward tennis is that it’s an escape for me in some ways,” Murray says during Resurfacing. “The way that I am on the tennis court, I show some positive things about my personality, and I also show the bad things and the stuff that I really hate.”
For Murray, dealing with the hip resurfacing procedure – while not being a matter of life or death – becomes a quality of life issue. Being able to enjoy family time, being able to return to tennis – a sport he has enjoyed tremendous success while playing it at a very high level – is an added bonus. Even though, there is a slight chance that Murray could do further damage to his hip, as we learn during a meeting he has afterward with Dr. Sarah Muirhead-Allwood, the surgeon who performed his hip resurfacing surgery.
”People think, ‘Why is it important? It’s just tennis; it’s just a sport,’” Murray says in a confessional tone of voice. “For me, it’s a lot more than that.”
The access and trust that Cappuccini gained from Murray while working on Resurfacing is pretty astonishing. There’s a lot of detail and insight in Murray’s internal dialogue and we get to see him like never before – both humble and self-deprecatingly humorous, especially around his team and when we see him breakdancing as part of his rehabilitation therapy. We see Andy at home with his family and witness how being a father has matured him. We see his dedication and professionalism – and his appreciation for the sport of tennis. We see him as a human being, not just as a professional athlete.
As I watched Resurfacing Monday evening at home with my wife, I gained appreciation from seeing and listening to the self-recorded videos and voice memos that were made by Murray throughout his recovery. They take us inside Murray’s mindset and serve as a powerful and effective tool in telling his story.
”One of the things that I’m worried and a little bit scared about is, if I do stop playing, or I have to stop playing, that I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” Murray said in a voice memo after he withdrew from Wimbledon in 2018. “That’s something that I worry about, not having that structure.”
Through Murray, we see many of life’s emotions, both on and off the court: hope, despair, joy, agony, persistence, frustration, victory, defeat, determination.
Listeners of the British-produced The Tennis Podcast will recognize the voices of its co-hosts, David Law and Catherine Whitaker, whose many musings about Murray are included to help narrate the story of his injury and recovery. After seeing the London premier of Resurfacing a few days before its worldwide release on home video, Whitaker tweeted: “I don’t really understand people that don’t like Andy Murray. But if there’s any left after watching this then there’s not hope for them. An extraordinary glimpse inside (literally, at one point) of Britain’s greatest ever sportspeople.”
Andy Murray: Resurfacing is a fantastic journey that takes us from his breaking point to his being back on the court. It’s an inspiring story that transcends tennis and is a must-view – and rewarding – experience for everyone.