• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Judy Murray: I'm more than just a mother, but I'm happy to be that too

AT some stage over the weekend, it's a good bet that Judy Murray will take delivery of some flowers, sent by her sons for Mother's Day.

Judy Murray says in the last couple of years she has done more on the 'mum side', helping her sons to move house instead of coaching them. Picture: Getty
Judy Murray says in the last couple of years she has done more on the 'mum side', helping her sons to move house instead of coaching them. Picture: Getty

As the mother of two Wimbledon champions, after Andy broke a 77-year duck by winning the singles last year (Jamie won the mixed title in 2007), Judy is well used to people congratulating her on their achievements. But for all their success on the court, she never tires of hearing people compliment her on their usually impeccable manners, especially with fans.

"When people tell me things like that - how much time Andy spends signing autographs, how polite he is, how courteous he is, or Jamie, how friendly he is, how much time he spends with people - these are the things that make you very, very proud of them as people, that they're really good kids, who happen to be great tennis players," Judy told Herald Sport.

"They're quite good at it [remembering Mother's Day]. They're usually not in the country. Sometimes I am with them, it just depends if I go to the tournament in Miami or not - but they are usually quite good at sending flowers."

Judy Murray has come a long way in the past 25 years, from her days as a multiple national champion to her present role as the captain of Great Britain's Fed Cup team.

Heavily involved in promoting tennis to kids from underprivileged backgrounds, the woman who was best known for being courtside at Andy's biggest matches is now becoming a name in her own right.

"I think what I'm doing now . . . probably more people have been able to see that I can coach, I work in tennis, I work with kids, I can work with adults," she said. "I do know what I'm doing, I do a lot of stuff, I've taken tennis into underprivileged or disadvantaged areas - that's right up my street going and working with kids, I love doing all that stuff - but it's not something you need to be shouting about and telling people that you do.

"But I've probably been able to show in the last couple of years that I'm not just Andy Murray's mum, I have got lots of other things that I do myself and I don't just travel around the world telling my son what to do, which is what people were saying at one point."

That belief led to some difficult times for Judy as she was accused of being an obstacle to Andy fulfilling his potential. It came to a head a few years ago when Boris Becker weighed in, saying Murray would never win a slam until he got rid of Judy from his box.

The idea that the presence of his mother, who taught him to play the game, was his first coach and who has been a constant rock of support, was the reason he could not win a grand slam title was laughable, at best. But it also hurt. "That was very tough," Judy said. "I still think that if I'd been the father of sons I don't think I'd have been noticed. I think there is something about this mother thing, or strong woman thing, or competitive woman thing.

"I have no idea when the TV cameras or press cameras are on me but the ones they choose to show are the ones when I'm sort of gritting my teeth or pumping my fist or whatever, which make me look like I'm some kind of over-competitive dragon."

Judy tried to tell herself - as she had told Andy whenever he was criticised - that these people did not know her, knew nothing about her family, what they had gone through to even get that stage or what it was like to watch someone go through such a stressful experience.

Yet having someone like Becker throw in his penny's worth meant that many people believed that he was right. "At the time I remember reading it and thinking . . . if you knew anything about us, you would know that I go to about six or seven tournaments a year and if I didn't go to the tournaments I wouldn't see my son, because he hardly ever gets a chance to come back to Scotland and the players need emotional support," she said.

"I should never have to apologise for supporting my son, but the problem with Boris saying it was that it was in one paper one day and then the next, it was in every paper.

"In a number of the Scottish papers, it was in the headlines on the front page and it was making it look like I was the reason he wasn't winning a grand slam and that I was the worst thing since sliced bread.

"That was really difficult for me because I thought: 'It's Boris saying it, who's a very respected, highly successful tennis player, who knows about tennis so people would think, he knows what he's talking about, she must be an absolute nightmare'.

"I was kind of having to reassure myself in exactly the same way as I handled it with Andy over the years when he'd been criticised a lot in the media. But it was very hurtful."

Having taken on the job as Fed Cup captain, you might think that her role as parent had been reduced of late. Not a bit of it. "I think more in the last couple of years, I have definitely felt much more on the mum side," she said.

"Things like moving house, those kind of things where you can help them as kids, nothing to do with tennis. Obviously our lives have been quite saturated with tennis but I didn't coach them individually from when they were 12 or 13 because I realised it's much more important to have the mum-child relationship than the coach-child relationship."

That realisation is far from easy, with many parents finding it impossible to let go. "I think I probably had seen and heard enough horror stories about people who'd got it wrong to go with the common sense approach and understand that you don't know enough about it to think you can do it all yourself, so you have to find the right people to help you," she said.

At times, as she ferried her sons and their friends, including the likes of Elena Baltacha and Colin Fleming, between various tournaments, Judy said she felt like "a walking ATM machine and taxi driver".

Yet she never thought of it as a sacrifice and now, especially when she is at home in Scotland, she can scarcely believe how far she and the boys have come. "It hits me sometimes when I am at home," she said. "You just see a little village tennis club [in Dunblane] and the terrible weather we have in Scotland and the fact that tennis wasn't a big sport in Scotland; no track record, very limited facility," she said.

"The fact that we've got two Wimbledon champions coming out of a four-court tennis club, in a little village in Scotland, that's when I kind of think, 'gosh, how did that happen?' It's amazing what they did, what the boys did."

Like all top sportsmen, they could not have done it without incredible support, especially from their mother. Let's hope they remembered those flowers.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

222809