A heartbroken Andy Murray said there was no shame in losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.
Murray, the first British men's singles finalist since 1938, lost 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 as Federer won his seventh title at Wimbledon and 17th Grand Slam crown.
"It's hard, it's tough to take, but you need to show strength of character to come back from it," said Murray.
"We're talking about one of the greatest athletes of all time. You've got to put it in context a little bit."
Murray went into his fourth Grand Slam final under a huge weight of public expectation as British tennis fans relished the prospect of a first homegrown champion since Fred Perry in 1936.
Even though 25-year-old Murray was considered the underdog, many observers rated his chances given the 30-year-old Federer's slide down the rankings and lack of a Grand Slam title since the 2010 Australian Open.
World number four Murray broke the Swiss in the very first game and went on to take the first set, but from then on Federer eased his way to victory to equal Pete Sampras's Open-era record for Wimbledon titles.
The win also took him back to the top of the world rankings above Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
"Was it my best chance? I don't know," said Murray. "I lost to a guy that's now won this tournament seven times and is number one in the world.
"He's still playing amazing tennis. A lot of people have been asking me, 'Has he started slipping? Is he not playing as well?' If you look at the matches he lost in the last couple of years, they were very close matches that he definitely could have won.
"He could be sitting on 20 Grand Slams but for one point or a couple of inches here or there. He's still playing great tennis. I don't think you get to number one unless you deserve it."
In his other Grand Slam final appearances, Murray lost to Djokovic in Australia in 2011 and to Federer in Melbourne in 2010 and at the US Open in 2008.
"I'd say that's the best I've played in a Grand Slam final," he said. "I created chances, I went up a set. It was a long match. Even the last two sets, I still had chances.
"It wasn't like I gave away bad games or stupid games. I played a good match. I made pretty good decisions for the most part, so I'm happy with that.
"I felt more comfortable this morning and before the match than I had done maybe in the previous slams."
Murray gave an emotional speech on court after the match, stepping away from the microphone at one point to collect himself.
"I'm getting closer," he said on BBC TV, before adding, "I'm going to try this and it's not going to be easy."
He went on to congratulate Federer and thank his family, support team and the fans, and admitted later that he had apologised to the Swiss for allowing his emotions to detract from the result.
"I just said to him, 'Sorry'," said Murray. "I didn't obviously want that to happen. You feel like you're kind of attention seeking or something. It was not like that at all, but I knew it was going to be hard.
"I've seen Roger do the same thing a couple of times before, so he kind of knows what it's like. He just laughed. He said, 'This is meant to be the easy part, doing the speeches after the match'. But sometimes it feels quite hard compared with playing a tennis match."
Murray also reinforced his belief that the huge public support is far more of a help than a hindrance at Wimbledon.
"It's been amazing," he said. "They're certainly not the ones that make it hard to play. They make it much, much easier, you know. When you have a crowd like that behind you, it's a lot easier to play.
"Thanks for the dedication. Sorry I couldn't do it for them."