Judy Murray, the mother of British tennis champion Andy, has said she thinks people would be nicer about her if she were a man.
She tells this week’s Radio Times that the perception held of her in some quarters of being a bossy tennis mother is unfair.
“I think if I were the dad of sons, I wouldn’t have been noticed,” she reveals.
“There’s something about a competitive mum, especially when the children are male. Boris Becker had a go at me a couple of years ago, saying Andy wouldn’t win a Slam until he got rid of me. I thought: ‘I’ve never met you. You don’t know Andy. You don’t know anything about us.’ But because Boris was saying it, I thought people would think, ‘She must be an absolute nightmare’.”
Judy has been described as a “dragon”, a “terrible mother” or, as she puts it, “the worst thing since sliced bread” over the years. But she explains that her often dour demeanour while watching her son play does not reflect what she is really like.
“I have my own life and I’m always busy. If I want to see my children, watching them play is often the easiest way. I don’t smile when I watch Andy because I’m totally focused. If he looks up, he doesn’t want to see me laughing. But if you ask anyone else I work with, I love having fun.”
Judy, who was divorced from the boys’ father Willie in 2005 after a long separation, reveals that she has a close relationship with Andy’s girlfriend Kim Sears and they they often bake together or go shopping or to the theatre.
“She’s fabulous. I tell Andy how lucky he is. She makes amazing red velvet cupcakes. I’m serious about cake. A Victoria sponge with jam in the middle and icing on top is heaven.”
She also talks in detail about her memories of the massacre at the school in her home town of Dunblane in 1996 when 16 pupils and their teacher were killed by local gunman Thomas Hamilton. Andy, then 8 and his brother Jamie, then 10, were pupils at the school and present on the day of the massacre.
Describing her guilt at feeling relieved that her sons were unharmed when so many parents suffered an unimaginable loss, she describes how close Andy was to being in the gym where the massacre took place.
“Andy’s class had been on their way to the gym. That’s how close he was to what happened. They heard the noise and someone went ahead to investigate. They came back and told all the kids to go to the headmaster’s study and the deputy head’s study. They were told to sit down below the windows and they were singing songs. The teachers and dinner ladies did an amazing job, containing all these children, feeding them, and getting them out without them being aware of what had happened. I don’t know how they managed it.
“On the drive home I knew I had to stop the car to tell Jamie and Andy what had happened – they didn’t know and it was clearly going to be everywhere. It was an impossible thing to explain to children. I’m very glad they were too young to understand the enormity of it.
“It turned out they knew the guy. They had been to the boys’ clubs he ran locally at the high school. I knew him, too – I’d given him lifts from the boys’ clubs to the station. He was a bit of an odd bod, but I wouldn’t have thought he was dangerous. So he’d been in my car.”
Judy adds that the only time she gets emotional about Andy’s Wimbledon win last year is when she is in Dunblane.
She said: “If I give a little speech at a kids’ tournament or something, I find it very emotional. I did one the other day and I was really struggling. When you’ve gone through a really dark, tragic time, and then come to a real high, I hope it helps people to feel something really positive about the town. Everything that Andy and Jamie have achieved… the excitement it brings to the town – you’ve gone from one end of the scale to the other. When Andy is home, you really feel that.”
Judy also revealed that she would be voting the Scottish independence referendum – but declined to say whether she is a supporter of independence or not.
Radio Times magazine is out now