Andy Murray branded a contentious poster of past and present Wimbledon greats a “disaster” as he highlighted the lack of prominence given to female players.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray was a notable absentee from the official All England Club artwork which features 15 famous players walking down a staircase.
Young pair Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz – neither of whom have made an impact at the Championships yet – stand in the foreground of the painting, followed by a selection of “epic” rivalries, beginning with Murray’s long-time competitors Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
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Of the six women depicted, only Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are among the front 11 players, with the other four, including Serena and Venus Williams, at the back.
While Murray’s uncle and brother criticised his exclusion, the Scot insisted that is not the issue as he spoke about the poster for the first time since its release.
With a smile, he initially said: “It was a disaster, wasn’t it? I don’t need to elaborate any more on it, it’s pretty obvious if you see the poster.”
Asked about four of the front five groups of rivals being men, he continued: “That was what was slightly strange.
“I guess the players that are on the poster are ones that have had incredible careers and have been unbelievably successful at Wimbledon.
“But elsewhere are some of the greatest players of all time.
“For me, Alcaraz and Sinner are unbelievable players but it just seems strange that they were all sort of behind them.
“I personally don’t really care that much about it. But I can see when you look at it’s like, ‘that does look a bit strange’.
“Me not being on it is certainly not a problem.”
Murray’s final warm-up ahead of Wimbledon ended in a 6-4 6-4 loss to world number six world number six Holger Rune at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic.
The 36-year-old, who is ranked 39th, goes into his home slam unseeded and awaiting his fate in Friday’s draw.
While he would relish another meeting with reigning champion Djokovic before the end of his career, Murray is keen to avoid star names in the early rounds, albeit he is ready for that scenario.
“Ideally that wouldn’t happen right at the beginning,” he said of facing a top seed. “I would obviously want that to happen probably later in the tournament.
“But at the same time, because of the situation, I need to be prepared for that. I need to be ready to play against anyone right from the start.
“I’ve had some pretty tough first-round draws in the slams over the last couple of years so I need to to be ready for that and I think I am.
“Obviously, I would love to play against Novak again. I can’t remember the last time we played. It’s a long time ago.”
Murray moved well on court against 20-year-old Dane Rune at the Hurlingham Club but could not capitalise on his chances as he slipped to defeat.
Prior to last week’s first-round exit at Queen’s Club, he had won 10 successive matches in claiming back-to-back grass-court titles in Surbiton and Nottingham.
“Form-wise, I think has been good,” he said of his recent displays. “There are some positive signs there.
“Maybe the other players would see it differently but I don’t think there are loads of guys that would want to draw me in the first round. That’s a good place to be.”