FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has praised "legend" Andy Murray, after the Scottish tennis star revealed his plans to retire from the sport.

The former world number one has suffered from a chronic hip condition for more than 18 months, and has undergone surgery for it.

However, in an emotional press conference ahead of the Australian Open, Murray said the pain has led him to target a farewell at the next Wimbledon – but that this next tournament might be his last.

Praise for Murray flowed in on social media, including from the First Minister, who tweeted: "Andy Murray is a legend - without doubt one of Scotland’s greatest ever sportsmen, as well as an outstanding role model and inspiration for young people everywhere. A credit to sport and to the country. Sending him very best wishes."

Other Scottish politicians hailing the Wimbledon winner included Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie.

Tennis great Billie Jean King also sent a message, noting Murray's support for getting women into sport.

She said: "You are a champion on and off the court. 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. Much love to you & your family."

The 31-year-old can look back on a career full of highlights, including three grand slam titles and two Olympic gold medals.

Speaking at the press conference in Melbourne, he said:  "Obviously I've been struggling for a long time. I've been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now.

"I've pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn't helped loads. I'm in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It's been tough.

"During my training block (in Miami last month) I spoke to my team and told them I can't keep doing this. I needed to have an end point because I was sort of playing with no idea when the pain was going to stop.

"I said to my team, look I think I can get through this until Wimbledon. That's where I'd like to stop playing. But I'm also not certain I'm able to do that."