Andy Murray’s decision to assign Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach has raised more than a few eyebrows within the tennis community. With names like John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Paul Annacone listed as front-runners to take the job it came as a surprise when Andy announced that the Frenchwomen would take the role. This is not new territory for the reigning Wimbledon Champion as his first coach was his mother Judy. He even joked that the only difference would be that he wasn’t paying his Mum.
“I obviously worked with my Mum for a long time and then even periods when I was 16, 17 years old. For me it doesn’t feel like a very different thing. Obviously I wasn’t paying my Mum so it’ll be a little bit different this time around because I’ll be employing Amélie. I think it’s exciting, something a bit new for me, something a bit fresh and hopefully it works well.”
It will also not be a new experience for two-time grand slam champion Mauresmo who coached ATP professional Michael Llodra from June to July of 2010.
This is similar to her arrangement with Murray as she will join initially for the grass court season with a view to an extended role if the pair see fit. There are only a few other examples on the ATP circuit, usually with female coaches coming from within the family.
Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin’s mother has been his permanent coach from an early age. Meanwhile world no. 50, Mikhail Kukushkin, hired his girlfriend Anastasia who went on to become his wife while they worked together.
In comparison the Murray/Mauresmo partnership is by far the highest profile so will no doubt come under great scrutiny at the Wimbledon Championships this year. If successful it could encourage more of the world’s top male players to seek out the female greats of past years.
Murray has already set the standard with his previous coaching choices when he appointed Ivan Lendl. His immediate competition found that Andy was gaining the edge with multiple slam winner Lendl which led to Federer and Djokovic hiring legends Edberg and Becker respectively.
Murray felt he needed a change of direction with his new coach and after a phone call with Mauresmo said she came across “extremely calm”. He discussed implicitly the difference between working with a female and typical male coach.
“I’ve found, with my mum especially, that she listened extremely well and that was something that I felt right now that I needed.
“I’ve started to listen to my body a lot more and I think it’s important that the people you work with respect that and understand and listen to how you are feeling. You can’t just be pushed extremely hard every single day. I need to pick my moments during the year when I really go for it in training.”
Which ever way the partnership works out Andy Murray has bucked the trend yet again. In a sport where just a few percent can change the outcome of a match sometimes players need to seek to gain an advantage from where they can.
Murray will be hoping this will come from the wise words of Amelie Mauresmo. The founder of the WTA Billie Jean King obviously thinks female coaches can work successfully with male players.
“It is not the gender of the coach that is important, it is the strength of the relationship between the coach and the player that will make the partnership work.”