IT has been almost a year since Andy Murray made the ground-breaking move of appointing Amelie Mauresmo as his coach. While hiring a former Grand Slam champion should not have been particularly newsworthy, the fact that the Frenchwoman became the first female coach of a top men’s tennis player meant that the sport headlines were dominated by the move. Murray’s form last season was somewhat dubious, however, and the bulk of the resultant criticism was aimed at Mauresmo – something that Andy’s mother Judy could greatly empathise with, having dealt with her own fair share of criticism in the past.
Judy was appearing at a Cerno Capital event in Glasgow and admitted to The National that the appointment of Mauresmo was unusual when one considers how few female coaches work on either the men’s or women’s tours, but refutes the suggestion that it was a particularly courageous move by her son. “I don’t think Andy saw appointing Amelie as brave,” she says. “He knew what he was looking for in terms of the skill-set and the personality and he knew what he wanted to add to his game. Amelie is a former world No 1and had that wonderful variety in her game that Andy also has, so he’s working with somebody who understands tennis very well, which I think is important.”
The dearth of female coaches at the top of tennis remains something of a mystery to many, and Judy believes that women are, in fact, stronger in some areas than their male counterparts. “There are some things that women do better than guys in the coaching sense and certainly in the mentoring and teaching sense – those would really be around the listening skills,” she says. “I think that egos don’t come into it as much with female coaches, or not the ones I’ve worked with anyway – with guys, egos can very much come into it and it can become about ‘do as I say’, whereas I think that women are far more open to asking questions.”
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Murray appears to have started a trend of hiring former female champions and Judy is delighted. “I think there is still sexism in sport but there’s a lot of momentum around the whole women in sport issue at the moment,” she says. “I think Andy’s appointment of Amelie has created a lot of awareness and it has shown that it’s not about gender, it’s about the skills that you have and the personality fit. Since he took on Amelie, a number of the top women’s players have appointed former female players so it’s already started to have an effect.”
Judy believes that Mauresmo has rekindled parts of her son’s game which had, temporarily, gone missing. It has resulted in the Scot being in the form of his life and he may miss her sorely if she is absent from Wimbledon as she awaits the birth of her first child. “Amelie’s getting Andy to feel the game again – I think he’d lost that a little bit,” says Judy. “It was understandable that happened because he had to learn to be more aggressive and take more chances, but I think Amelie is good with the softer skills that Andy has naturally. She is an instinctive player like Andy so I think that’s why they’re so good together.”