Tennis without Andy Murray is “almost unimaginable”, says Johanna Konta after the Scotsman confirmed his intention to retire in 2019.
Murray, 31, is set to retire after Wimbledon in the summer but admitted the Australian Open could be his final tournament.
In an emotional press conference on Friday morning, Murray revealed he was still troubled by the hip injury that has plagued him for the last 18 months.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray underwent surgery on the hip problem a year ago but is still unable to perform without pain, and despite being determined to play on until Wimbledon in June, he conceded he could call time on his career before then.
The prevailing feeling among British tennis players was one of sadness, with Konta saying: “Thinking fundamentally about our sport without him, particularly at home, it’s almost a little bit unimaginable.
“Obviously it’s inevitable as it is for everybody but for sure the sport without him would definitely be quite sad.
“Also if he is unable to retire on his own terms and is forced to retire, that is something no athlete wants to be put through.
“Everyone has a lot of compassion and a lot of sadness for him, if he is put in that position with his hip. I just can’t imagine the sport without him to be honest, he has been there all the time.”
Murray’s support for women and the women’s game was also appreciated by British No 1 Konta, who added: “There have been so many examples of when he has stood up for us – not just for women’s tennis but women in general.
“He has also been blessed with two daughters and I think he’s grown up with a really strong female role model with his mum and now his wife is also a strong character so he is surrounded by great, strong women.
“He has put that through in the way he has voiced his opinions and the way he has tackled some questions and issues that have arisen and I think everybody has always been very appreciative of him.”
Billie Jean King, 12-time Grand Slam winner and advocate for equality of pay in tennis between men and women, also praised Murray’s achievements in that area on social media.
“You are a champion on and off the court,” she said. “So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future.
“Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations.”
Murray’s former Davis Cup team-mate Dan Evans says he hopes the Scot can enjoy retirement when he eventually ends his career.
“It’s just very sad news for tennis, especially British tennis,” Evans said.
“He helped everyone a lot and gave everyone a lot of inspiration who watched his matches. He’s had an incredible career and hopefully he is happy with his decision when he retires.
“He has helped me a lot and been very generous. He is a great guy to everyone around him. I hope he is happy when he retires and enjoys my life.”