Tennis star Andy Murray is returning to the tournament he once thought could be his last. The Australian Open gave the former world No. 1 a main draw wild card, bringing him back to the event for a 14th time.
Murray's last Australian Open appearance was 2019, when he fell to Roberto Bautista Agust in the first round. The 34-year-old Murray battled a lingering hip injury at the time, one he thought could end his career.
"If it was my last match," Murray, who's won 46 singles titles and three Grand Slam titles, said after the match, "it was an amazing way to end."
Less than a month later, Murray underwent hip resurfacing surgery with the hopes of it being "the end of my pain."
Murray has since returned to competitive tennis, climbing to No. 134 in the ATP Rankings and becoming a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year in the 2021 ATP Awards. The Scot most recently defeated world No. 6 Rafael Nadal and world No. 25 Dan Evans in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
"I'm really excited to be back playing at the Australian Open and grateful to Craig and the team for the opportunity," Murray said in a statement. "I've had some great times in Australia playing in front of the amazing crowds and I can't wait to step back out on court at Melbourne Park."
Five-time finalist @andy_murray is awarded a main draw wildcard.— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) December 23, 2021
“Andy is renowned for his fighting spirit, passion and love of the game and I’m delighted to welcome him back to Melbourne in January.” - @CraigTiley
We can’t wait to see you at #AO2022, Andy 💪💙#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/pJpBy4qXQT
Murray is 48-13 all-time in the Australian Open and has finished as a runner-up five times. He withdrew from the event a year ago and nearly missed this one after testing positive for COVID- 19.
"Andy is renowned for his fighting spirit, passion and love of the game," Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said. "I'm delighted to welcome him back to Melbourne in January."
The Australian Open is slated to begin Jan. 17 in Melbourne.