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Queen leads Murray plaudits after historic triumph

Andy Murray of Britain has a photograph taken by a fan at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunke
Andy Murray of Britain has a photograph taken by a fan at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunke

By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth joined politicians, sports stars and celebrities in congratulating Andy Murray on Sunday after he made tennis history by becoming the first Briton in 77 years to win the Wimbledon men's title.

Millions of tennis fans across the country were glued to their televisions as Murray took to Centre Court for his second Wimbledon final, facing the world No. 1 Novak Djokovic after he lost last year to Roger Federer.

At the All England Club in Wimbledon, up to 30,000 fans packed Centre Court and crowded on to a hill within the grounds recently retagged "Murray Mound" to watch the match live on a giant TV screen, chanting "Murray, Murray, Murray".

Waving Union Jack flags and sheltering from the blazing sun under umbrellas, the tension rose amongst the crowd on the hill as Murray took the first two sets against Serbian Djokovic and erupted when he won in a nail-biting finish.

In Centre Court's royal box, Prime Minister David Cameron cheered on the Scottish player alongside England striker Wayne Rooney, "Hangover" actor Bradley Cooper and Victoria Beckham, the ex-Spice Girl, who cracked a rare smile as Murray won.

"It was an amazing performance from Andy Murray but also an amazing day for British tennis and for Britain. He never gave up and it was magnificent," Cameron told BBC Radio 5.

Cameron earlier said he hoped Murray would add the Wimbledon title to the British and Irish Lions' win over Australia on Saturday which ended a 16-year wait for a series triumph.

One notable absentee from the royal box was the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who watched Murray last year but is due to give birth to the future heir to the British throne.

"ONE IS VERY PLEASED"

Queen Elizabeth is not a tennis fan and last came to the tournament in 2010, her first visit in 33 years, but she was reported to have sent Murray a private congratulatory message.

Sports stars, celebrities and politician jumped on to Twitter to congratulate the 26-year-old Scot who is the first Briton to claim the title since Fred Perry in 1936 - and the first British to win the tournament wearing shorts.

"Pretty sure @andy_murray might have to change his twitter name to @sirandymurray ...... Well played and deserved!," tweeted retired U.S. tennis player Andy Roddick who lost the final at Wimbledon three times.

"77th on the 7th of the 7th.. 2013. Cool," tweeted British actress Emma Watson, star of the Harry Potter films, referring to the fact that the number seven is considered lucky.

"Murray Mania" was running high before Sunday's match when tickets became like gold dust with website viagogo reporting one pair of tickets on sale for a record 71,000 pounds ($106,000) - over 320 times more than the 260 pound face value.

Some fans camped out for two days for the chance to see Murray play and were overcome with emotion when he won.

"I'm crying. This is just amazing. The best day ever," said Hannah Slater, 28, a management consultant from London.

"It's another good thing for the country. We had the London Olympics, we have a royal baby coming soon, and a win like this keeps us on a roll when times are hard," said Graham Bredbere, 47, a railway worker, from Hive in Kent.

The crowd chanted "Judy" as Murray leapt into the players' box to hug his longterm girlfriend Kim Sears, best friend Ross Hutchins who is battling cancer and his mother Judy who has been a constant presence during his career.

His mother broke down in tears and was heard to say "finally" as she hugged other supporters in the box.

As for Murray, he shied away from questions about whether he would drop his usual tea-total lifestyle to celebrate, after admitting that he brushed his teeth with face cream after celebrating his U.S. Open win last year with champagne.

He certainly was not going to get personal when asked if he would now pop the question to Sears and consider starting a family.

"I haven't thought about that yet," he told reporters.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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