Trying to come up with a female name coaching a male athlete at the top of his game is like a million pound question. Yet, Andy Murray, world number five and British number one has made a move that is set to change perceptions of women in sport with the appointment of Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.
Murray parted with his previous coach, Ivan Lendl in March because he unable to commit to enough time to Murrays schedule. Lendl assisted the Brit in securing his first two major championships and the 2012 gold medal at the London Olympics in what is undoubtedly the most successful partnership of his career. It is Mauresmo’s job to get him back to grand slam champion status and with Wimbledon fast approaching there is no time to lose.
Mauresmo was ranked world number one for a total of 39 weeks, won Wimbledon and the Australian Open, both in 2006, and is currently the captain of the French Fed Cup team. She was part of Marion Bartoli’s coaching team which led to her Wimbledon victory last year and has also been linked to Frenchman Michael Llodra during his grass-court campaign in 2010. Her career results speak for themselves and she has proved her capabilities of coaching a grand slam champion as well her competence of dealing with a male athlete.
Murray is no stranger to a female coach as his own Mother, Judy occupied the position for him as a youngster up until the age of 17. According to Mauresmo, Judy’s coaching is significant to her appointment and that “he’s maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things.” His previous coach Lendl was not known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, having held the same facial expression at last year’s Wimbledon when Murray won to when he lost in 2012.
It is difficult not to focus on gender with regards to this position, especially when considering there is not one female manager of a premier league football team or premiership rugby club or a female coach on the NBA, NFL or MLB teams in the US. But things are changing for the better and the rate of that change will grow quicker because barriers are constantly being broken. By no means did Murray hire the Frenchwoman because of her gender but on her merits and because he thinks she can provide a valuable service to him so all the best to the pair of them. Murray will begin his grass court season with a title defence at Queen’s Club, before heading to SW19 to defend the historic title he won last year at Wimbledon.