The issue of what it means to be Scottish is a rising debate, with a referendum scheduled for Sept. 18 to determine if Scotland should be an independent country, separate from the United Kingdom. Andy Murray, one of the world’s most famous Scotsmen, has stayed quiet about his opinion on the vote, but says he has been following the debate “very closely.” After his comfortable 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 second-round victory over the qualifier Matthias Bachinger on Thursday night, Murray spoke to The New York Times about going home to Scotland. In previous conversations at the U.S. Open, Murray has discussed his perspective on this year’s tournament and female coaches in tennis.
Q. What does being Scottish mean to you?
A. I think Scottish people are very proud people. I remember my roots. It still feels like home, always, when I go back to see my family. And yeah, I think we’re very passionate people. We always get behind each other. We’re quite self-deprecating. But the people from Scotland are very friendly. They’ve always supported me since I was a kid, whether I’ve done well or badly, they’ve always been behind me. So I’m very proud to be Scottish.
Q. What are the first things you do when you go back to Scotland? Something particularly Scottish you have to eat?
A. There’s some ice cream, from a place called Allanwater Cafe. Vanilla ice cream, it’s plain, but it’s very, very good. It’s got a very distinctive taste, it doesn’t taste just like regular vanilla ice cream. And then my gran’s cooking. I always love getting food from my gran.
Q. What’s her best stuff?
A. Going for lunch, she makes these homemade soups, with bread rolls. Always also when I go back for Christmas dinner and stuff, it’s always much better when she’s the one cooking.
Q. When you go back to Dunblane, do you feel like you dissolve back into your hometown, going back in time?
A. It’s interesting because I don’t get to go back that much. But I obviously remember a lot from when I was a kid, and it felt so much bigger when I was a child. Now when I go back, it’s so small. Whether it’s the distance between my house and my gran’s house — because everywhere in London to get places, it takes time — there, you can get around Dunblane in 10 minutes, the whole. It’s a tiny place. But it used to seem like it was a long way for me to get to, like, the tennis courts where I used to practice. That’s the one thing I find strange. If I go to my gran’s house — me and my brother used to play in my gran’s house — now it literally takes two steps to get around the living room. It’s weird.
Q. Some of the times you’ve gotten emotional in your career, on court and otherwise, have been when it’s brought up what it means to you to have the support of the people back home. Why does that touch you so much to represent them?
A. I don’t know. I don’t get to go back very much. I’ve always kind of been told from my family, they’re always telling me how much everyone is supporting me back home, and I don’t get to see that as much. But when I do go back, yeah, I find it a bit overwhelming sometimes. Yeah, I think that’s a part of it. I’m also just very proud of where I came from, and every time I go back, whether it’s for an award or just to see my family, I always get a bit emotional when I land in Scotland, or when I drive into Scotland. Yeah, that’s it
Q. Does it hit a different sort of note for you if you hear someone shouting out support for you around the world in a Scottish accent?
A. Yeah, I like seeing Scottish flags anywhere I am. It’s nice because we’re only a small country, but they’re always at most of the tournaments, you’ll see the odd one flying around.
Q. When is the last time you wore a kilt?
A. My brother’s wedding.
Q. Is it something you’ve done often?
A. No. I’ll definitely, if I ever get married, I’ll definitely wear a kilt. But no, only a couple of times, to be honest. Not often.
Q. If the independence referendum does go through, would it change anything in your career?
A. It would be a bit weird, in that I’ve played under Britain since I was 11. The first time I came over to the States was for the Orange Bowl, and yeah, I’ve played under Britain ever since then. So it would be a bit strange. I don’t understand why it’s different in different sports. Obviously the golfers play for Scotland, England, Northern Ireland. But yeah, it would just be a bit weird, because I’ve never done it since I’ve ever played tennis.
Nice post, New York times Musical, posted on FB