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Andy Murray whacks innocent little butterfly with tennis racket

It was really bugging him.


David Britton

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 8, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 1:46 am CDT

Andy Murray was not having a good day. The No. 2 ranked men’s tennis player and Olympic gold medalist, was expected to beat 6th-ranked Kei Nishikori to advance in the U.S. Open, and, early on, it seemed like he was going accomplish that easily, when he won the first set 1-6. 

But things rapidly went downhill for the the Scotsman. First his rhythm was thrown off when officials decided to close the roof over the stadium after a passing rainshower. Later, something went wrong with the sound system, causing it emit a loud bonging noise, which prompted the umpire to halt play.

“They stopped the point and I was just curious why that was and that was it,” Murray said. “Did it affect me? Definitely.”

And when a butterfly started fluttering around his end of the court, it was the last straw. 

The announcers did their best to play it off with one of them saying “He didn’t really whack it.”

“No no no,” agreed his companion, “it was just a gentle nudge.”

They even made sure to show the little guy hopping away. The thing is, butterflies aren’t known for their hopping. There’s a reason it wasn’t flying.

Now before you get too mad at Murray, try to put yourself in his shoes. You’re a tired, frustrated, athlete. Not only are you losing a match you were expected to win, but the day has been riddled with unexpected distractions. Add to that the fact they you’re basically holding a giant flyswatter, and the temptation to smack any bug that enters your field of vision has to be pretty high. 

Which does bring up another point—a butterfly might indeed be beautiful, but it’s still an insect. Would anyone have been upset if Murray had swatted one of those flying cockroaches? Probably not.

If it makes you feel any better, a ball boy scooped up the insect and released it outside the stadium… where it was probably eaten by a bird.

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*First Published: Sep 8, 2016, 1:45 pm CDT