Yesterday the Andy Murray, appointed two-time Grand Slam women’s champion and out lesbian Amélie Mauresmo as his New Coach.
The move to appoint Mauresmo – the former Women’s World No 1 is seen as a groundbreaking one, and shows that Andy Murray prepared to think outside the box.
Murray is looking for is someone who can add that little extra input which, at the rarefied level he plays at, can be the difference between winning and losing.
‘I’m excited by the possibilities of the new partnership and Amelie is someone I have always looked up to and admired. She’s faced adversity plenty of times in her career, but was an amazing player and won major titles, including Wimbledon. I have a very strong coaching team already in place, but I think Amelie brings with her experience and tactical expertise and will push us all to improve. Everyone I know talks very highly of Amelie, as a person and coach, and I’m convinced that her joining the team will help us push on – I want to win more grand slams.’
As Murray has said the presence of a woman can tame the egos that sometimes prevail when you have an all-male team, and that Mauresmo is someone he can respect as she is a proven winner like he is, rather than purely a professional coach who can work as a technician on his game, which is unlikely to radically change anyway at this point of his career.
Andy Murray is not the first male for Mauresmo to coach, she also has experience of coaching Frenchman Michael Llodra in 2010 when he won the Eastbourne ATP event. She was also in the team of Marion Bartoli when she won Wimbledon last year, so she is well qualified on all sides to understand the pressures.
Amélie Mauresmo was an all court player who won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and she is relishing the challenge of taking on such a fascinating individual who always has the capacity to surprise.
‘I’m really excited to be able to work with Andy. He’s an amazingly talented tennis player and I feel I have plenty to offer both him and the team around him. I’m looking forward to getting down to work and helping him win more Grand Slams… Andy contacted me a few weeks ago and we started to talk about this possibility to work, to be working together. It’s not really something that I was thinking doing when I stopped being a tennis player. Then we talked again a little bit more about how to do the things maybe about his game, about different things. We came up with the will from both sides to, yeah, to give it a shot.
‘We all know his mother was a big part of his tennis career. I think he’s maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things. It’s not really interesting for me, this part of the story, to be honest. All I’m interested in is to be able to help him in his goals. That’s about it. The rest is the story for you to write, I guess. But, yeah, for me it’s a challenge. I want to take it.’
It is not unprecedented in tennis for a woman to coach a man. Jimmy Connors was coached by his mother, Gloria. Djokovic’s first coach was a woman, Jelena Gencic. Billie Jean King once coached Tim Mayotte. Andrei Chesnokov, who reached the top 10 in 1991, was coached for his entire career by Tatiana Naumko. While none of the top 30 female players are coached primarily by a woman, 49th-ranked Denis Istomin is coached by his mother, and 54th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin is coached by his wife. But there are not many examples in other major sports of women coaching men. A few women have been assistant coaches in Division I men’s college basketball. Nancy Lieberman coached in the N.B.A. Development League. Helena Costa was recently hired by Clermont Foot 63, a second-division soccer club in France, becoming the first female manager in one of the top two divisions of Europe’s five major soccer leagues.
Murray has already drawn praise from many figures in the women’s game such as Chris Evert for contemplating having a woman in charge, and now he has followed through on that.