Unless you’ve been on Mars for the last fortnight, you are likely to know that Andy Murray finally ended Britain’s 77 year wait for a men’s champion at Wimbledon in one of the great sporting moments in recent memory. Viewing figures released after the final revealed that around 81% of Britain’s TV audience on that Sunday afternoon were watching Murray’s triumph and every single one of these were treated to plenty of views of Andy Murrays Mum and supporter-in-chief Judy. Judy Murray has always been a regular feature at Andy and her other son Jamie’s matches at Wimbledon and all around the world, and in the last 18 months has also become more and more involved with women’s tennis in Britain.
On the face of it then, Judy Murray is a supportive tennis mother as well as a lover of the game who is working hard to improve Britain’s fortunes on the ladies side, which have been less than positive in recent years. Rather than be lauded for this however, Judy is often criticised and openly disliked by sectors of the tennis establishment, media and the public, but this is entirely unfair. Much like how Andy was pilloried in his early days for being more aggressive, single-minded and uncouth than his predecessor as Britain’s number one Tim Henman, Judy faces similar unfavourable comparisons with Henman’s mother.
The truth of the matter is that tennis in Britain is still largely the reserve of the upper and upper middle classes, and the establishments of the game very much reflect this. Because of this, the staid, stiff upper lip, reserved support offered by Jane Henman when she watched her son was seen as ‘the done thing’, whilst Judy Murray’s brand of fist-clenched, wide eyed, aggressive support seems alien to the upper echelons of the game. This is what has led to the criticisms of Judy as a ‘pushy mother’ but is largely ridiculous when you consider that her level and type of support is far more reminiscent of how the majority of viewers on Sunday afternoon would have supported her son, by virtue of national pride and not even blood relation.
So what of the real woman behind the unfair headlines? Judy Murray speaks with great fondness of growing up surrounded by sport; her father played professional football in the Scottish Premier League, her brother was a keen golfer, and Judy herself used to play any and all sports that she could in her youth. She carried this passion for sport through her relationship with her sons and was keen to introduce Andy and Jamie to all manner of sports and games when they were young. Judy’s passion for sport and particularly tennis became her profession in 1994 when she became a professional coach and coached both of her sons in the early stages of their careers. Judy came to the national attention initially with Andy’s breakthrough performances at Wimbledon in 2005 before being an ever-present supporter throughout older brother Jamie’s victorious mixed doubles campaign at SW19 in 2007. For the next five years, as Andy came close but kept just falling short of Grand Slam glory, the criticism and unpleasant sound bites regarding his mother intensified, with Boris Becker being particularly vehement in his criticism in 2012 when he implied that Andy needed to cut the apron strings if he was to meet his full potential.
To her immense credit Judy Murray has never shown any sign of these criticisms affecting her and must have felt an extra bit of pleasure when Andy captured the US Open in 2012 with his mum supporting him as she always had in the stands. After this, as everyone knows Andy has also gone on to claim the Wimbledon title and is the only man currently holding two Grand Slam titles, as well as becoming a crowd favourite thanks to his genuine nature and will to win. So, if these are the results of having a ‘pushy mother’ then perhaps that is not such a bad thing?
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