MELBOURNE • Still struggling with a hip injury that has limited him since June 2016, Andy Murray announced yesterday he would retire after Wimbledon in July, if not sooner.
He said the "driving factor" in the decision to end his playing career this year was due to the lingering pain and things came to a head during off-season training last month.
"Obviously, I've been struggling for a long time," he said in an emotional news conference in Melbourne. "I have pretty much done everything I could to try and get my hip feeling better, and it hasn't helped loads. It has been tough.
"I can still play to a level, (but) not a level that I'm happy playing at. I can play with limitations, that's not an issue, it's having the limitations.
"I spoke to my team, and I told them, 'I cannot keep doing this.' I needed to have an end point because I was playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop."
The Australian Open, where he is a five-time runner-up, starts on Monday and his final match could potentially be against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
Murray added: "I said to my team, 'I can get through this until Wimbledon.' That's where I would like to stop playing. But I'm not sure I'm able to play through the pain for another four or five months."
Admitting the ongoing injury had taken an emotional toll, he said he had spoken "a number of times" with psychologists, but the pain meant it was no longer "fun or enjoyable (playing tennis) any more".
He also revealed he was "seriously considering" hip resurfacing surgery, which would alleviate the pain and allow him to "have a better quality of life".
The 31-year-old became the first British men's Grand Slam singles champion in 76 years when he won the US Open in 2012.
He won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016, and clinched two successive Olympic gold medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games.
He reached No. 1 for the first time in November 2016, holding on to it through Wimbledon the following year, even he though he was often in the shadow of his Big Four counterparts Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Murray, a counter-puncher who wears down opponents through physicality and guile, earned a reputation as one of the hardest-working players of his generation.
He was also admired by many in women's tennis for his vocal support of the WTA Tour and his decision to hire Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014.
TO BE GREAT OR NOT TO BE
I can still play... (but) not at a level that I'm happy playing at. I can play with limitations, that's not an issue, it's having the limitations.
ANDY MURRAY, three-time Grand Slam champion, sees no point in struggling on if he cannot return to his best.
But, having dropped to 230th in the world after repeated injury layoffs, he has now accepted his mortality in the sport.
Juan Martin del Potro led the tributes, urging him to "keep fighting" despite his impending retirement.
The world No. 5 , who like Murray is no stranger to debilitating injuries, tweeted: "I can imagine your pain and sadness. I hope you can overcome this. You deserve to retire on your own terms."
Nadal posted on the Instagram account of his tennis academy that he was "an example of a great athlete and person", while Andrea Petkovic felt he would not only "be a huge loss for tennis in general, but also for the WTA" as he always spoke "up for women".