Kim Sears: the woman who netted Scotland's tennis superstar Andy Murray
She's best-known as the woman who melted Andy Murray's heart, but as the couple tie the knot today, Steven Beacom says there's much more to Kim Sears than meets the eye
Andy Murray is one of Britain's biggest sporting heroes. What's perhaps less well-known is that, in some circles, he is regarded as a feminist icon. Down the years, too many notable male superstars of sport have hit the front pages for their attitude to the fairer sex, with tawdry tales, ranging from infidelity to domestic abuse.
Murray has steered away from that path. Privately and publicly, he has always been respectful to females. It comes as naturally to him as a cross-court backhand.
That won't surprise when you realise just how much his 27 years have been shaped by impressive women. For starters, there was his mother, Judy, who inspired the Scot's passion for tennis. More recently, there has been Amelie Mauresmo, the coach aiming to take his game to a different level.
She was employed by Murray in spite of criticism in certain quarters for him opting to have a woman rather than a man talking tactics and helping with his serve.
Murray swatted all the questions about appointing the French lady away with one powerful smash when he declared that "women can be very good coaches, too". Immediately, he was labelled a trailblazer for doing so.
He may have been dubbed a mummy's boy for his tenderness towards Judy and has formed a close bond with Mauresmo, but neither of the above can say they are the most influential and important lady in his life. That title belongs to Kim Sears, whom Andy will marry today in his home town of Dunblane.
She's never been one to seek the limelight, though you may recall her hitting the headlines back in January in controversial circumstances.
At the Australian Open, during Murray's semi-final victory against Tomas Berdych, she let rip with a ferocious, expletive-ridden blast from the players' box, where friends and family sit.
After her man had won a gruelling rally, Sears was caught on camera appearing to shout: "F****** have that, you Czech f****** f***". Up until that point, she was well-known for her unwavering support of Andy, but not many knew she swore like a trooper, too. Clearly, there was more to Kim Sears than meets the eye.
To the outside world, most see her as the pretty Wag who follows Murray's games, sets and matches around the world. Inside Andy's camp, though, she is considered one of the driving forces behind his career, which has brought two Grand Slam titles, including Wimbledon in 2013, millions of pounds in prize money and sponsorship deals and 500-odd victories on the circuit.
Determined and loyal, Sears has been with Murray virtually every step of the way. And Andy's family admire her for it.
His grandmother, Shirley Erskine, was quoted this week as saying she is the "best thing that has ever happened to him".
Murray's history has been out there since he started becoming a contender at Wimbledon, but what's the story with the woman he will wed today?
Well, she was born in December in 1987 in a town called Barcombe in East Sussex, growing up with her dad Nigel, who was a respected tennis coach, South African mother Leonore and younger brother Scott.
A creative young girl, she loved subjects like drama, art and music at high school before going to the University of Sussex in Brighton, where she studied English Literature.
Kim first met Murray when she was a teenager at the 2005 US Open. They began dating soon after, though it wasn't until a year later that she entered the public eye when, having won his first tournament in San Jose, an excited Murray jumped into the crowd to give his new girlfriend a sloppy kiss.
Sears was still a Burgess Hill School for Girls pupil. Next thing she knew, she was big news.
"I went away with him thinking it's fine, because he's never going to win, so I'll be back in time for school on Monday - and then he won," recalls the 27-year-old.
"I remember saying to my mum, you've got to call in and tell them I've got the winter vomiting virus and I won't be in, but then it was on the front cover of the paper, so I was busted."
The better Andy got and the more tournaments he won, the better-known Kim became. Her good looks made her a favourite with photographers, especially during Wimbledon - the one fortnight in the year when everyone in the United Kingdom falls in love with tennis.
There were reports of a six-month split in 2009, but see them together now and there is a sense they were destined to be together.
Often perceived as grumpy on the court, Murray is normally full of smiles off it when he is with Kim, who as well as urging him on to glory, is capable of bringing out his lighter side.
Whether Sears was laughing during a period a few years ago when she was constantly compared to and contrasted with Kate Middleton, who was dating Prince William, is another matter. The tabloids loved that whole Kim v Kate debate - especially when the pair both happened to be cheering on Britain's great hope at Centre Court in the summer months.
They had similar hairstyles and stylish fashion sense, but neither encouraged the comparisons. This was never going to turn into a Katie Price v Posh Spice type of public feud. They were much too classy for that.
In any case, once Kate married William and became the Duchess of Cambridge, everyone seemed to move on as Andy and Kim moved in to a stunning six-bedroom £5m home in Surrey, enjoying walks in the countryside with their two border terriers, Rusty and Maggie, who incidentally has her own Twitter account with 27,000 followers.
Kim has always had a love of animals, so much so that in her job as a painter she specialises in portraits of pets. Her website is called Brushes and Paws, in which she says: "I can't remember a time when I didn't turn to either paints, or pencils, as a means of release.
"I love animals, and have come to relish portraying family pets as, well, family. Everyone I know treats their pet as an extension of themselves, so I like to think I produce quirky yet emotive paintings that effectively capture what it is we treasure most in our furry companions."
As well as continuing with her art, she hopes to write a novel in the future, though admits she is not disciplined enough to do it right now.
Children for her and Andy have also been talked about.
First things first though and today's wedding, which, if Andy's speeches during Wimbledon finals he has won and lost are anything to go by, should be emotional.
It won't be a big celebrity bash. The bride and groom aren't into all that. Wedding-watchers shouldn't be expecting too many major tennis stars to make an appearance, either.
Tim Henman, who unlike Murray never won a Grand Slam, might just be the most famous face there other than those saying "I do" at Dunblane Cathedral, before the large gathering of family and friends make their way to the reception at the nearby luxury hotel Cromlix House, which Andy owns.
The people of Dunblane are beside themselves with joy and have hung out more than 800 metres of bunting to celebrate their most famous son's nuptials.
Back in 1996, hearts were broken in the Scottish town when gunman Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School before committing suicide. Murray has put the place on the map for more inspiring reasons and the proud locals love the Olympic champion for it.
They have great affection for Kim Sears, too - the woman who melted Andy's heart.
- Steven Beacom is the Belfast Telegraph's sports editor
A life so far
Born: December 10, 1987 in Barcombe, Sussex (age 27)
Family: father Nigel, mother Leonore and brother Scott
Famous for: being tennis star Andy Murray's fiancee. Today they get married in Dunblane, Murray's home town in Scotland
She says: "When I'm watching Andy, people always say you look so calm, but inside it is a different story."
They say: "The whole family have taken to Kim. She is very attractive, very artistic and very supportive." (Andy's grandmother, Shirley Erskine)