Andy Murray has opened up on the sexism he encountered within the world of tennis when he hired Amelie Mauresmo as coach in 2014.
Murray went against the norm when he appointed a female coach in Mauresmo, who reached the summit of world No. 1 during her own playing career.
The Brit explained that news of Mauresmo’s imminent hire got leaked to the press, but was met with disbelief by certain fellow players on the tour. Instead, Murray says a small section of players and coaches thought it was a joke, one that he should take even further.
“It was in the press that I was considering working with a female coach,” Murray told Sky Sports’ ‘Driving Force’ show.
I started getting messages from other players, from their coaches, saying: ‘I can't believe you're playing this game with the media. You should tell them tomorrow you're considering working with a dog.’
“I was like, ‘Wow.’ I never had experienced that before because I'd never worked with a female coach on the tour. And then it's kind of spiralled from there that when I started working with her, yeah, there was negative press towards her.”
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Murray and Mauresmo worked together for two years, but the hire was met with questions right from the outset. Pat Cash was one individual who immediately queried how Mauresmo would operate on the ATP Tour.
"It's very unusual,” said Cash in 2014. “I'm not sure how she's going to get in the locker room. I think a few eyebrows will be raised.
“You know, she's got all the credentials, of course. She's smart, she's got a great game and Andy's not going just to pick somebody for no reason - he's going to have done his homework; so it's a matter of him putting it together in his brain and if she can add something there I think it's a great choice.”
Andy Murray and Amelie Mauresmo didn't always see eye to eye
Image credit: Getty Images
Murray never won a Grand Slam during his two-year spell under Mauresmo’s guidance, although he did rise as high as No. 2 in the world ahead of a 2016 that produced some of his best tennis:
Intriguingly, Mauresmo appeared to thrust the blame for their eventual split on Murray back in 2016.
“Andy is complex,” she told L’Equipe, as seen by the Guardian. “On the court, he can be the opposite of what he is in life. It can be confusing.
“I was there to help. I had the feeling I could not get things done. I had the impression we got to the end of what could be done professionally. It was concluded that it would be difficult to continue.”
If those comments carried an air of ill feeling, it seemingly is not reciprocated by Murray, who looks back on his time with Mauresmo with one big regret: he didn’t deliver a major title.
Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title in 2016
Image credit: Imago
Murray says he would have loved to put a seal of success on their partnership, if only to have silenced those who didn’t treat the prospect of a female coach seriously.
“It's one of my regrets that I didn't win a Grand Slam when I was working with her. And for people, a lot of people, that was considered a failure because I didn't do that,” Murray said.
“When actually, if that was the case then all of my coaches bar one have failed with me. And yeah, I just, I feel like she was harshly judged by a lot of people just purely because she was a woman.”
Murray went on to win Wimbledon months after his split from Mauresmo and he returned to world No. 1 later that year.