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Dublin Man Becomes First Irish Person To Umpire Wimbledon Men's Final

Dublin Man Becomes First Irish Person To Umpire Wimbledon Men's Final

For the 2023 men’s final, Dubliner Fergus Murphy served as umpire for his first Wimbledon final.

Yesterday saw one of the best men's Wimbledon tennis finals in recent years as the young Spanish superstar Carlos Alcaraz overcame arguably the best men’s tennis player in history, Novak Djokovic, in five-set classic lasting four hours and 42 minutes.

Wimbledon is one of the most famous tennis tournaments in the world, popular with die-hard tennis fans and casual viewers alike. While those watching were enthralled by a game of mind-blowing skill and talent, eagle-eyed Irish watchers will have spotted an Irishman in the high chair, leading the proceedings as umpire.

For the 2023 men’s final, Dubliner Fergus Murphy served as umpire for his first Wimbledon final in a game which had it all from long, tight rallies to a Novak Djokovic tantrum right under Fergus’ chair. However, he remained professional throughout and received a warm reception from the Wimbledon crowd after the game.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Fergus Murphy is a very experienced tennis umpire having received the top umpire rank of the Gold Badge Chair Umpire in 2001. He has been umpiring professionally full-time for the Association of Tennis Professionals since early 2016. After 28 years of service at Wimbledon, Fergus certainly earned his seat for the most important game in the professional tennis calendar.

He studied to be a barrister before his career change but has always been an avid tennis player and fan. He played at both Castleknock and Fitzwilliam tennis clubs in Dublin and started umpiring in Ireland before taking his skills abroad during the 1990s.

While tennis umpires are now banned from speaking to the media, Fergus spoke to the Sunday World before the ban and explained how he got into the job and what he loves about it.

He said “I have experienced so much over the course of this career and wouldn't swap those experiences for the world. I've seen some amazing places all over the world, met some great people and been lucky enough to be around a sport that is enjoying a real boom at the moment.

For me, this is a great era for men's tennis. People were complaining not so long ago that we didn't have enough characters, but the battle between Federer and Nadal is fascinating and there are so many other interesting guys from all over the world battling it out as well and I am lucky to be a great position to watch it all unfold in front of me.”

Despite his obvious talent, like most tennis umpires, Fergus hopes to avoid the limelight and allow the players to get the attention. He said “I always hope that no-one notices I'm there. The

secret for all sports officials is being invisible. If I get to the end of a big match and no one has noticed I have been on the court, that's a good day for me.”

Getty Images
Getty Images

However, for Irish tennis fans, it was impossible not to notice an Irishman on the iconic centre court in Wimbledon. There have been very few Irish players who have managed to qualify for the tournament in recent years with Conor Niland’s qualification being the most recent Irish player to reach the main draw in 2011.

Thankfully, Fergus Murphy’s umpiring of the final means there was some Irish representation in what must have been the pinnacle of his already very successful career.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Ireland, Wimbledon, History