Andy Murray says winning a doubles title five months after thinking his career might be over is more special than many of his singles wins.
Murray and Feliciano Lopez beat Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 10-5 in the Queen’s final on Sunday.
Former world number one Murray had a hip resurfacing operation – from which no-one has ever returned to play singles – in January.
“I’ve won with a metal hip. It is mental really,” the 32-year-old said.
Murray had the resurfacing operation – where the femur head is smoothed and capped with metal – just 157 days before he returned to competitive action at the west London club last week.
That came shortly after he broke down in tears at the Australian Open, saying he thought he would not be able to continue playing if he had the operation.
Murray, who has won 45 singles titles – the last of which was in Dubai in February 2017- said he was in constant pain as he struggled to play with his two children, sleep and even put on his socks.
But, following the operation by Royal surgeon Sarah Muirhead-Allwood, the Scot he has been given a new lease of life.
“This is very different for me and it’s more special than a lot of the singles tournaments that I have won for a lot of different reasons,” the three-time Grand Slam champion said.
“It’s a cool thing to be able to have done, because of where I was a few months ago.
“Even as far as just two months ago, I just wasn’t thinking about this. It was not something that I was driven to get back to, playing here.
“I was just really, really happy just to be pain-free and enjoying life, literally just doing normal things. So it’s really special.”
‘I was expecting my hip to be sore’
Murray has been in regular contact with Bob Bryan, the American 23-times Grand Slam doubles winner, who had the same operation, and says he has been surprised at not feeling any pain in the hip this week.
Bryan also started playing competitively again about five months after his operation, reuniting with his brother Mike at the Australian Open in January.
“In terms of hitting the ball and the skill level, I don’t think that that’s something that goes away,” Murray said.
“It’s the physical side of things and sometimes the mental, like the nerves.
“I expected something in my hip. I expected it to be sore, but I literally have nothing there.
“I spoke to Bob about that and he said in Australia he had a few little aches and pains.
“For me, it had been probably five or six years, where after matches I would get some pain and aching and throbbing.
“Things like that that, you would just anticipate and be waiting for that to happen.
“It doesn’t any more and it’s brilliant.”
A possible US Open return?
Murray said if he were unable to return to singles, he would “probably consider” becoming a full-time doubles player.
But the two-time Olympic gold medallist is not ruling out a singles return at the tournament where he won his first Grand Slam title in 2012 – the US Open.
“I think I have a couple of options after Wimbledon,” he added. “Either I continue with doubles but start training and practising singles through the US Open swing, and then try to maybe play singles after that.
“Or I take a longer break post-Wimbledon of maybe, let’s say, a month or six weeks to get myself ready for singles and then try and play close to the US Open time.”