Tim Henman is quietly doing his bit to try and keep British tennis on an upward path after the Wimbledon title breakthrough last summer of former protege Andy Murray. Henman, whose four Wimbledon semi-finals set the pace for the host nation until Murray made title breakthrough, is working with the Jaguar Academy of Sport, a body which aims to nurture and inspire British sporting excellence.
The project, funded by the iconic British car making marque, has put Henman in the role of front man for the initiative. As such, the former player is not shy about voicing his opinions, including the recent Australian Open, first major event for Murray after his autumn back surgery.
Henman said that physical issues including the back pain which plagued Rafael Nadal during his losing Melbourne final against Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka are all part of the gruelling sport. “Rafa has battled against his knee problem but if you look at the way he plays tennis, then he is always going to put enormous strain on his body — and knees, in particular,” said Henman.
“However, he doesn’t get other injuries and a back spasm in Australia is something that can happen to anyone. You cannot read anything into that. I had a shoulder problem during my career when I changed my service action and needed an operation. Managing your body is becoming even more important and Andy is doing a really good job following his back operation.”
Henman, who has chosen his commercial obligations carefully since his 2007 retirement, took the opportunity to tout the Jaguar sports project, launched two years ago. “It uses people who have played sport at the highest level to pass on their experiences to the next generation. Sport has changed dramatically in the last 15 years, particularly in the mental preparation, and the education programme is evolving all the time.
“There is no doubt that Andy Murray is a great role model in tennis because he ticks so many of the boxes. I was part of the David Lloyd Academy and when I was 16-17 years old I got to practise with Stefan Edberg and that really helped me.”:
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