Andy Murray served a closing ace, and the Olympic gold medal was his. Britain had a champion to cheer, and on sacred ground for tennis — Centre Court at Wimbledon.
What's more, the 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer at the All England Club came less than a month after the Swiss great beat Murray on the same grass court. But Murray couldn't make it two gold medals Sunday. He and partner Laura Dobson lost to Belarus pair Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the mixed doubles final later in the day.
As soon as Murray finished off Federer — in a rare dominant day against a player with seven Wimbledon titles — the roars grew to a crescendo, the Union Jacks waving every which way.
"Brilliant!" declared Julian Peltenburg, a Wimbledon local who brought his 8-year-old son, Monty. "It's the first time. It's history here."
Wimbledon and Olympic officials blocked walkways to the picnic area, holding fans back because the grounds were packed. Many of those same fans had no hesitation at ordering others around if their view of the match was impaired for a moment. Some grew testy when they couldn't join the party. Police ushered fans out afterward to keep order.
For a typical championship Sunday at Wimbledon, fans camp out all night for grounds passes, looking to get seat on the hill. No chance this time. Those tickets sold out months ago.
"It's a good atmosphere, but it's strange because usually Wimbledon is here," said Phil O'Connor, 26, of London. "It's a bit more raucous. Usually it's quite busy and you get good support for Murray every year. It's good to see."
It was also a day to be quick on one's feet. Those with tickets to the men's bronze-medal match rushed to find an open seat on the grass or at least to stand.
Brits of all ages "oohed" and "aahed" with each point as it quickly became clear that after all of Murray's heartbreaking near misses it was their guy's day to shine, and right at home playing for his country.
Nicola Knight's 5-year-old son, Oliver, sat through it with a coloring book to keep him occupied.
"It's not something they can comprehend, and he's doing his coloring," Knight said. "(Murray) has done amazing and we're very proud of what the British have done."
David Packer, a 64-year-old Londoner, spent his day off from working the Olympic cycling to be at Wimbledon. He already watched British cyclist Bradley Wiggins win gold in the time trial — and now this.
"Incredible, absolutely incredible," said Packer, an elementary school teacher. "It's absolute history in the making. I'm now feeling powered to go to Rio. I'll be retired by then. I've got the Olympic bug."Suggest a correction