He Just Broke The Glass Ceiling
The Wimbledon Championships began today, and one Scottish tennis star made news on Monday: Andy Murray has hired a female coach, Amelie Mauresmo. Why, in the 21st century, you ask, is this news? Because the tennis world is more backwards and sexist than you many realize. According to the Daily Mail, women only make up 31 percent of tennis coaches, and absolutely zero of the top tennis players, male or female — minus Murray — have women as coaches. Last weekend, at the European Team Championships in Germany, only three female coaches were present. Murray is the only male player at Wimbledon with a female coach.
Murray's coach, Amelie Mauresmo, is more qualified than many. She won the women's singles at Wimbledon in 2006 and coached last year's female winner, Marion Bartoli. Still, some are questioning her credentials: Virginia Wade, a British, 68-year-old, former tennis-player and legend, told The Guardian that she thought the appointment was "a joke" and questioned the coach's competence.
"I think she was a little fragile mentally," Wade recalled of Mauresmo's win in 2006. This is not the first time Wade has attacked Murray. Two years ago, she called him a "drama queen," when a back injury negatively affected his performance at the French Open.
"I think again maybe he's trying to mess with everybody," Wade said of Murray. Excuse us, but how is he messing with everybody? By having a hurt back and choosing a female coach? Yeah, he's a real trickster...
Even amongst the women competing at Wimbledon (who are referred to as "Ladies," by the way), female coaches are few are far between. Past winners of the women's singles competition, such as Serena and Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova have all competed with male coaches. Bartoli is the only woman in recent history to win with a female coach, and of the clubs in the FA Women's Super League, only one is headed by a woman.
Murray doesn't seemed to be phased by the sexist criticisms, however. He has said that he chose Mauresmo in part because she seemed like someone who had struggled with nerves, but learned to conquer her fears. Murray says he wanted someone he could talk to about his own worries. So, maybe the female mental fragility thing will be put to a good use, after all, Wade.
The New York Times reported that Murray has made comments about feeling comfortable around a female coach, because his mother was his primary coach for so many years. Despite having to deflect sexist attacks, both he and Mauresmo are trying to focus on the competition, not the fact that Mauresmo isn't a man.
“It’s possible it doesn’t work. It has nothing to do with whether she’s a woman or not. That’s not why it will work or not work,” Murray told reporters Monday in response to Wade's criticisms. "If it helps bring more female coaches into men's sport — and women's sport — that's a good thing."