LONDON — The roars grew longer, the applause louder, with each game and each point that carried Andy Murray closer to ending Britain's 77-year wait for a men's champion at Wimbledon.
Then, with Murray suddenly needing merely one point to end his grueling final against Novak Djokovic, the 15,000 spectators filling Centre Court at the All England Club hushed long enough for play to resume. Murray lost that point. As well as his second championship point. And, yes, his third, too.
Grand Slam success did not come quickly or easily for Murray earlier in his career, and it certainly did not come recently for the British at their revered grass-court tournament, so there was something fitting about the way the last game dragged on, the tension growing, the long wait a little longer still.
When a fourth championship point eventually arrived, nearly 10 minutes after the first, the normally relentless Djokovic finally yielded, pushing a backhand into the net to cap Murray's 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 victory Sunday.
The match was over. The angst was gone. Murray — and all of Britain — could celebrate.
"That last game will be the toughest game I'll play in my career. Ever," said Murray, who is Scottish. "Winning Wimbledon — I still can't believe it. Can't get my head around that. I can't believe it."
Until Sunday, no British man had won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
"I obviously wanted to try and win this for myself," Murray told the crowd, cradling his new gold trophy, "but also I understand how much everyone else wanted to see a British winner at Wimbledon, so I hope you guys enjoyed it."
The ceremony's emcee described the closing game as "tortuous to watch," and Murray, with perfect comedic timing, piped up, "Imagine playing it."