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Spiers on Sport: why I love Judy Murray

The famous words of Abraham Lincoln have resonated down the years. “God bless my angel mother - all that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to her,” wrote the 16th president of the United States.

I don’t often draw a parallel between Lincoln and Andy Murray, but I did this weekend, watching Judy Murray once more excitedly root for her son in a Grand Slam final.

Judy is not a phenomenal mum. And she would certainly baulk at any use of Lincoln’s “angel” terminology as a description. But through something simple and unadorned – just being a sporty parent - Judy gave Andy a precious gift that is now reaping its rewards.

Every time I see Judy Murray I think, contrary to her being anything phenomenal, she has merely been the embodiment of the ordinary, encouraging parent. Before Andy’s well-deserved fame in tennis Judy had been the classic unsung parent of the world over.

Judy wanted her kids to enjoy sport – in Jamie and Andy’s case it was tennis – and so she did what thousands of parents do: back in the 1990s she rolled her sleeves up, spent years washing her sons’ kits, and drove them here, there and everywhere so that they enjoyed themselves.

The stories that have emerged of Judy with Andy and Jamie as kids are utterly germane to everyday parenting: she loved to see them run, leap, play and expend their energy, and openly encouraged it.

In every street in Scotland there are Judy Murrays doing this right now.

I remember the unsung Judy Murray of the Scottish tennis scene of the 1980s. Back then, as one of our best Scottish women players, she had only very minor, local fame, and was seen more than anything as an enthusiast of our regional tennis.

Judy even wrote a weekly tennis column for the then Glasgow Herald, much as someone might write up a newsletter for a church magazine, in which she keenly chronicled the recent events in Scottish tennis – as if many were that much interested in it back then.

Today, everyone wants a piece of Judy Murray, for obvious reasons. But 20 years ago she was scarcely noticed, a marginal figure on the Scottish sporting scene.

When you look back to it now, Judy was merely keen and eager to do her best for her sons and, in the context of tennis, to serve the sport she loved. She was the kind of willing, helpful citizen upon which good societies are built.

Of course, the big change came when Andy began to show signs of real talent, above and beyond your average sporty kid, and off he went to the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona at the age of 15. The rest, as they say, is history.

Much that Andy has, he owes to his mum. I’m trying not to drool here – but Judy Murray has become a hero of mine, because of the ordinary human values that she represents.

I don’t believe for a moment, as one or two idiots have tried to assert, that she was a “pushy parent”. The testimonies of her two sons completely dispute this.

Indeed, Andy is on record as saying there were times when he felt his mum could (and should) have pushed him a lot harder when he was young.

Well, in that regard Judy appears to have called it right: not too hard, not too soft. In other words, just right. Just an ordinary parent.

Today Judy brings enjoyable whimsy and sometimes embarrassment to Andy’s sporting career. Famously, she drools over male tennis stars on Twitter, cooing and smacking her lips at pin-ups she fancies going out for dinner with.

Last week her latest lust was Pat Rafter, the former world no.1 who is now 40 years old and is indeed pretty handsome. Andy, at his wits’ end, said of Judy’s tweeting: “It’s time my mum stopped all this nonsense.”

This is just fun. This is Judy having a bit of a ball as she watches her ordinary, encouraging parenting of Andy reap its fantastic reward.

Why shouldn’t she have a laugh like this? Judy is perfectly entitled to enjoy herself. She is also, in part, deliberately sending herself up.

There will have been disappointment today, inevitably. But well bloody done Judy Murray: first for being the embodiment of the ordinary, encouraging parent; and second for giving us all these Andy Murray thrills.

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