Tennis Champ Andy Murray Declares Himself A Feminist Following Criticism Of Coach Amelie Mauresmo

andy-murray

Just before the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in 2014, British number one seed Andy Murray shocked the world by choosing former female champion Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach. After all, he did do something incredibly horrible and wrong. Oh wait…

Frenchwoman Amelie ain’t exactly a random hire, although men being coached by women in the tennis world is still an anomaly. She won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1996 and is a former Women’s World N. 1 player. After being defeated in straight sets by Rafael Nadal in the French open last year, Andy brought on Amelie to change his game up and unlock a side of him that he had not yet explored on the court.

“I think he’s maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things. All I’m interested in is to be able to help him in his goals. For me it’s a challenge. I want to take it,” said Amelie in a statement at the time.

She is not new to coaching either, having coached both male and female players to championship titles. It was speculated by some that a male player having a female coach can be a good thing because they are able to “tame” the male ego that often exists in them.

Regardless of ego, Andy hired her to win and to improve his game, and everyone was on board with that. Oh wait…

andy-murray-amelie-mauresmo

Amelie is used to criticism having faced it on the court many times for being a lesbian. She was never shy about her sexuality and didn’t let it affect her game. Perhaps this aspect of her personality was something that attracted Andy as well.

Currently ranked third in the world and holding an Olympic gold medal, Andy is gearing up for Wimbledon once again, but instead of solely focusing on his game, he has had to respond to criticism about having a female coach, as has Amelie herself.

In January Amelie told the Guardian that despite the public perception, being a woman coaching a man was never an issue between her and Andy. She knows how much heat he took in press conferences for his new coach of choice.

“Every time I think he was in press conference since Wimbledon last year, the questions are really questioning me and the good decision he made or not. He probably had enough of that. It’s always better to show than to respond vocally,” she said.

A private conversation between the two regarding the mixed-gender team revealed he was not bothered by the criticism. Amelie understood why it would concern people, after things have been done one particular way for so long, but she says it will change in the future.

andy-murray-roland-garros

“When I heard or read a little bit about the comments and stuff, I thought, ‘Wow, it’s not that easy.’ In terms of where the society is right now, it’s still not that easy and hopefully it will make things easier now. I think [Andy] was brave [for choosing her as coach] but I also believe he was just moving forward with what he thought was the best thing to do.”

So even though Andy is proud to tell the world she is is coach, you’d think people would just let it go, right? Wrong!

To put these rumors to bed once and for all, he wrote a column for L’Equipe during Roland Garros (the French Open) sharing reasons why he now unashamedly calls himself a feminist.

“Right from the word go, I knew that working alongside Amélie would set tongues wagging. The reason for this is that very few players before me have worked with a female coach. I realised it would create a feeling of suspicion, mistrust and perhaps even negativity. I didn’t realize, however, that Amélie would find herself up against such criticism and prejudice. The staggering thing was that she was slated every time I lost, which is something my former coaches never ever experienced,” he began.

His former coach Ivan Lendl was known as a firm defiant man, also a former world no. 1, who is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Under Amelie’s guidance, his ranking went from 11 up to 3, so that is certainly nothing to spit at. And while he didn’t want to make a big deal out of hiring a female coach, he found himself having to constantly defend his decision to the press.

andy-murray-amelie-mauresmo

“Her competence was always under fire. I felt embarrassed. That’s why I made a point of repeatedly saying she was doing an excellent job. The real low point hit at the Masters when I lost 6-0, 6-1 against Roger (Federer, in London). Rather than blaming me, they pointed the finger at Amélie. I still remember what some players and coaches said about her – I wasn’t impressed and I shan’t forget in a hurry,” he said.

Because of this, Andy declares he is a feminist, after experiencing first hand the criticism women face simply for their gender.

“If being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have.”

Andy’s mother has been a strong presence in his life on and off the court, and it was she who has been a driving force throughout his career. Because of this he wants to break down gender barriers in tennis.

“It’s a crying shame there aren’t more female coaches. I hope this changes even if I this isn’t the reason I chose Amélie. Whilst a female coach might not gel so well with others, it wouldn’t hurt for everyone to be a little more open-minded,” he ended.

Damn straight. Round of applause for a tennis champion who isn’t afraid of heat thrown at him both on and off the court. Perhaps having a coach who has also experienced this in her own career was the best decision he could’ve ever made.

andy-murray

 

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.