Murray's Wimbledon final defeat only the beginning
Andy Murray may not have won Wimbledon but his raw, tearful display at the end of his defeat by Roger Federer might turn out to be a breakthrough of another sort.
Admired rather than loved, there were times during yesterday's final when support for Murray on Centre Court seemed muted. Rightly or wrongly, he has a dour image which fails to reflect how much it all means for him.
Choked and unable to speak at the end of the match, that impression has changed now - possibly forever. This felt like the moment when sceptical "middle England", used to the more polite, familiar tones of Tim Henman, finally took the 25-year-old to their heart.
Whether any of that really matters is clearly up for debate. Do we need to like our sporting heroes? Surely as long as they win, that's all that matters.
But his progress over the last fortnight - both on the court and off it - must give the public confidence that when the 77th year without a men's winner comes around next June, Britain has a player of which it can be proud.
Let us not forget this was fourth Grand Slam final. And it is his misfortune that he is playing in such a golden era for men's tennis.
Rafael Nadal's shock exit early in the tournament only removed one of the three towering obstacles that regularly block his path to glory. If the Spaniard isn't there, then it is Novak Djokovic or Federer.
And to think the 30-year-old Swiss was supposed to be winding down. He was at his imperious best both against Murray and Djokovic in his semi-final on Friday. He has now equalled Pete Sampras's seven Wimbledon singles titles, has won 17 Grand Slams and is back as the world number one. Murray is good but in the final he was playing the best.
As Andre Agassi said last week, had Murray been playing a decade ago, it is certain he would have won a major title. Federer himself tried to console Murray after the tears had finally dried up with the thought that at least one Grand Slam will come for him - eventually.
Murray can also console himself with the fact that he has laid to rest one of British sport's biggest ghosts here. By reaching the final he has done something no British man has done since Bunny Austin in 1938.
In a British sporting summer like no other (and not just because of the weather) it would have been too neat, too convenient for Murray to banish the longest-standing record of which British sport is least proud.
But Murray's defeat on Centre Court did not feel like the end of his extraordinary story - it felt more like the start of something new.