Murray Overwhelmed By Local Support

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has said he feels honoured to be receiving the freedom of Stirling and an honorary degree from the university where he trained as a boy.

The tennis star returned to the area where he grew up for a series of events today. 

He was given the Freedom of Stirling, the greatest civic honour the local authority can confer, at a special council meeting at his old school, Dunblane High, in his home town this morning. 

The degree comes from the University of Stirling - where he used to play against students when he was younger. 

The reigning Wimbledon and Olympic tennis champion said he is delighted to be receiving the awards. 

He said: "They're all a bit different but mean just as much. Every time I come back here the support has been overwhelming. "The reaction when I came back after the US Open and the Olympics is something that I can never quite get my head round. 

"It's just always nice to come back and see the support and meet friends and family in Dunblane. I miss home.'' 

The 26-year-old said he has been doing some research on the Freedom of the City award but is still unsure of what it will allow him to do.

He said: "I've read a bit about it on the internet. I don't know exactly what it lets me do but I don't think I can do anything different to anyone else. 

"It's amazing, it doesn't happen that often, so it shows the support from the public, which has been unbelievable.'' 

He added: "I'm grateful to Stirling Council, and the people of Scotland, for their continued belief and support, and want to thank them for bestowing on me this very special honour.'' 

The sportsman has not been inside the school since he left. The Freedom of Stirling has only been granted on four previous occasions. 

Stirling Council decided to honour Murray after his success at the 2012 Olympics and his first Grand Slam win in the US later that year. 

The tennis star's training and competition schedule meant he could only receive the Freedom of the City now. 

Stirling Provost Mike Robbins said: "Everybody is buzzing about today's special ceremony. There's always a lot of interest and excitement whenever Andy comes home, and we're delighted to welcome him back. 

"We hope that today's very special event will inspire young people to get into sports and lead healthy and active lifestyles.'' 

This afternoon the University of Stirling will present Murray with a doctorate, during a private ceremony, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to tennis. 

As a boy he trained on the courts at the Scottish National Tennis Centre at the university. 

Professor Gerry McCormac, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, said: "We are delighted to welcome back Andy Murray to the university campus. 

"One of the greatest athletes of his generation, Andy has broken the boundaries of British tennis and elevated the profile of the sport to new levels. His exceptional sporting abilities, diligence and tenacity make him an inspirational role model to our students and to people across the world.'' 

Members of the public were encouraged to enter a ballot for tickets to see Murray receive the Freedom of Stirling. 

Hundreds of entries were received, with around 200 locals being invited to attend the ceremony, streamed live to local primaries. 

The tennis star spent last night at his new luxury hotel, The Cromlix, on the outskirts of Dunblane and was impressed with it. 

He said: "I just got here last night and it's the first time I've seen it since it's all been done and it looks great.'' 

He joked: "I hope they haven't charged me for a room but I haven't checked out yet so we'll see.''