SCOTLAND stood united yesterday to salute arguably the country’s greatest sporting son after Andy Murray announced the imminent end of his glorious tennis career.

If the former world No 1 fought back tears as he announced his retirement due to injury, it was an emotional day, too, for the fans he has kept on the edge of their seats, sharing the sensational highs, and sometime lows, of his time at the very top of the game.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led praise from near and far, tweeting: “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.”

Another tennis legend, Billie Jean King, posted on Twitter: “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 and your family.”

Murray, 31, from Dunblane, returned from a back operation in 2013 to add a second Wimbledon title to the one he had won that year, plus a second Olympic singles gold medal and a Davis Cup triumph. But he has failed to beat a hip injury despite surgery. He hopes to continue until Wimbledon but may quit after the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.

Hours after his announcement, Murray posted a picture on Instagram showing him embracing his mother, Judy. He wrote: “Best way to feel better after a tough day is a big cuddle from your mum. Genuinely been very touched by all of the messages and support from everybody today ... It means a lot and has made me feel much more positive than when I woke this morning. Thank you so much.”

Tracey Crouch, the UK sports minister when Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title in 2016, said: “He’s such a phenomenal competitor in an era of other great players, a champion for equality in sport and a genuinely nice guy.”

Murray was hailed by Labour MP Jess Phillips for being a “normal bloke, and best of all casual feminist”. Murray’s appointment of a female coach, Amelie Mauresmo, in 2014 is seen as a groundbreaking moment in the sport.

In Dunblane, where a gold postbox marks Murray’s 2012 Olympics triumph, resident George Majury, 71, said: “He has put us in the world news for all the right reasons.”

Bill Drummond, also 71, said of Murray’s decision to retire this year: “I think it’s the right thing to do – he’s a young man, he’s got the rest of his life ahead of him.

“If he doesn’t take care, it will affect him. I just wish him well. He’s done so well to get to where he has. It’s good to think of the good he’s done, and the future he’s got ahead of him. He can look back on his past feeling he’s achieved so much, and got so much to look forward to.

“He’s been great for Dunblane. Dunblane was remembered for all the wrong reasons – we used to go on holiday and we’d try and avoid saying where we were from. But latterly it was hailed as Andy Murray territory, so it’s been amazing for the town. He’s done great for Dunblane, for Scotland and tennis. We’ve always watched tennis, but for him to be part of it, it meant so much more. Good luck to him. It’s sad news but he needs to do it.

Murray, who has two daughters with his wife Kim Sears and is a Unicef UK Ambassador, already acts as an official mentor for young sports men and women through his management company, including two players at the football club he supports, Hibernian.

Head coach Neil Lennon tweeted from the club’s account: “Andy Murray is an inspiration and a role model. He’s been the ideal mentor to Fraser Murray and Ryan Porteous. I hope he’s able to finish an incredible career on his terms. Everyone at Hibernian Football Club is rooting for him.”