Why Andy Murray's good for women's tennis - according to his mum
"Andy and his coach Amélie Mauresmo have exploded the myth that women can’t work at the top level," writes Judy Murray
Usually what separates the players at the top of the game is what’s between the ears – that could be a matter of controlling your emotions or being smarter tactically and being able to change your strategy. Tennis is a thinking game and players need to learn how to think for themselves. That’s why listening is way more important than telling.
Appointing an individual coach should be nothing to do with gender – you shouldn’t be making a decision based on whether they are a man or a woman – but, like Andy, I also care deeply about giving girls and women more opportunities in tennis. That’s why I created a starter tennis programme for little girls called Miss-Hits, which is all about fun and giving them the basic coordination skills they need to play the game.
And if young girls in Britain are to be encouraged to try tennis, and then to continue playing, it’s hugely important that we have more female coaches. The indications are that Andy and Amélie’s partnership is helping to push up those numbers; many coaches have told me that together, Andy and Amélie have exploded the myth that women can’t work at the top level.
Andy Murray and Amélie Mauresmo
With Amélie, Andy’s approach has changed and he is now playing close to his natural game style. Every coach that Andy has worked with has had their own strengths. When you’re selecting a coach, you choose them depending on what you need to add to your game at that time. Over the past nine months, Andy has started to do more work on his second serve, and to come to the net more.
He is using his hand skills more and playing with greater feel and touch, which he always used to do, but maybe didn’t do so much when he worked with Ivan Lendl because Ivan wasn’t that type of player. He was more about being more aggressive more often, being physically and mentally tough and not losing your focus. Andy learnt loads from his time with Ivan and they achieved two grand slam titles together; now with Amélie he is playing in a slightly different way.
When Wimbledon ends, Amélie will take a break to have a baby – her first child is due in August – and Andy will be coached by another former grand slam champion, Jonas Bjorkman, who joined the team in the spring. For women who take a career break, it’s always tough to come back into the workplace, but top-level coaching in a sport like tennis means travelling 25 to 35 weeks of the year. That’s one of the main reasons there are so few female coaches.