RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Andy Murray is quite adept at wielding a tennis racket. Holding a giant flag? He needs some work in that area.
Murray joked Thursday about having had a tad bit of trouble during a photo op for the British team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, posing with the flag while standing next to a member of the royal family.
“I ended up putting the flag in front of Princess Anne’s face, and I didn’t know what to do, to be honest,” Murray said. “The flag’s huge. So as soon as I took the flag, I was covering someone’s face.”
Asked what the princess told him, Murray replied: “I think she said: ‘Just make sure you don’t poke my eye out,’ or something along those lines.”
He vowed to get in a bit of practice before Friday’s opening ceremony — practice holding the flag, that is.
And even as a guy who’s won Wimbledon twice, along with the U.S. Open, not to mention a pair of Olympic medals, Murray called being Britain’s flag bearer “by far the proudest moment in my professional career.”
“I wasn’t expecting it, genuinely. I’m very proud to get the opportunity to do that,” Murray said. “And it’s a big responsibility, as well.”
Murray called his assignment “inspiring” and said he thinks it will help him perform well during the Rio Games.
Murray is seeded No. 2 for singles in the Olympic tennis event, behind top-ranked Novak Djokovic. Murray won a gold medal in singles and a silver in mixed doubles with Laura Robson at the 2012 London Games.
He is scheduled to play his opening singles and doubles matches Sunday.
In singles, he’ll face Viktor Troicki of Serbia, someone Murray has beaten all seven times they’ve played. In doubles, Murray will team with his older brother Jamie against Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa of Brazil.
Jamie is looking forward to seeing Andy carry the flag on Friday.
“I’m very proud of him and all that he’s achieved in his career. He’s done so much for tennis in our country,” Jamie said. “He’s one of the biggest sporting athletes that we have in this team and in our country, full stop.”
Sunday’s matches will be Andy Murray’s first competition since July 10, when he won Wimbledon for the second time. He took more than a week off afterward, before resuming training.
“It’s actually really good for me to have had something obviously as big as the Olympics to focus on so soon afterwards,” Murray said. “It’s great winning Wimbledon, but it’s time to move on now and focus on this event.”