Andy Murray provides real-life inspiration for turning failure into success

As, no doubt, you’ll have noticed, he’s done it. Andy Murray has won Wimbledon.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 8 July

Andy Murray provides real-life inspiration for turning failure into success

As, no doubt, you’ll have noticed, he’s done it. Andy Murray has won Wimbledon.

The last player from these islands to take home the men’s cup was Fred Perry in 1936. So long has it been since then that that grainy, black-and-white footage of Perry’s win has become as much a staple of the tournament as strawberries and cream and Princess Michael of Kent.

Then along came Andy Murray. The 26-year-old’s life story is one of near misses, second chances, and exactly the kind of single-minded determination that was supposed to be lacking. (It is worth mentioning that Murray is not actually the first British player to win Wimbledon since 1936. Virginia Wade took home the women’s trophy in 1977.)

In March 1996, Murray was a pupil at Dunblane primary school, in central Scotland, when gunman Thomas Hamilton walked into the school gym and opened fire on a class of infants. Sixteen children and a teacher died. Murray’s class was due to use the gym next.

“You have no idea how tough something like that is,” Murray said recently. But, though the massacre affected him deeply, he worked hard at his sport – including turning down trials at Rangers Football Club to focus on his tennis career and the decision to move to Barcelona at the age of 15 to pursue better training – a commitment that paid off as from an early age he enjoyed greater and greater tennis success.

And then, last year, he was in his first final at Wimbledon. Up against Swiss great Roger Federer, he took the first set, but then lost the next three.

Famously, he shed tears on losing to Federer. “Wimbledon last year was the hardest loss of my career,” he said in the aftermath of yesterday’s victory. “I was emotional afterwards, and I responded really well… As soon as I was back on the practice court, I felt really good about my game.”

Newly energised, he went on to play Federer again in the Olympics tennis final (also on Wimbledon courts). This time, he won in straight sets. Shortly afterwards, he won the US Open.

Those minded to draw morals from sporting events could use Murray’s ability to take knowledge and strength from defeat as an antidote to the relentless short-cut-to-success messages of reality TV. In real life – unlike reality-TV life – an ability to deal with failure is often the key to success.

And so, yesterday, Murray faced Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men’s final. In a neat moment of pathetic fallacy, his straight-set victory (6-4, 7-5, 6-4) over the Serbian player arrived together with the equally belated summer. On Sunday, the sun shone on Britain once more.


  • What is "determination"?
  • In your opinion, how important is winning?
  • Andy Murray has overcome past failures in order to win Wimbledon. Can you think of a time when you had to face failure and move forward?
  • What is the best way to behave when you lose at something?

Related resources

Failure teaches success

  • Reflect on Murray’s win at Wimbledon and ask students the meaning of the Japanese proverb "failure teaches success" with the thought-provoking questions presented in this PowerPoint.

Tennis intro lesson

  • Get excited about tennis with this lesson plan that introduces pupils to the basic skills needed to play the game.

Tennis lesson – developing skills

  • Once your class have practised a selection of shots, develop their skills and awareness with this illustrated lesson plan.

Tennis drill – the overhead smash

  • From Teach PE, a narrated video that instructs viewers how to execute the overhead smash shot.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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For the second time in almost as many years, Egypt has been rocked by huge protests this weekend as the country’s capital, Cairo, witnessed mass demonstrations against the government.

Three-parent babies a possibility after British government backs new IVF technique

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