In Depth

Murray thinks outside the box to appoint Mauresmo as coach

The Wimbledon champion will become the one of the first senior male players to work with a female coach

On the day that Rafa Nadal confirmed his clay court genius with a ninth French Open victory, Andy Murray, the man he vanquished in the semi finals at Roland Garros, did his best to steal the Spaniard's thunder, by becoming the first leading men's player to appoint a female coach. 

Murray will work with former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo this summer, and his decision has prompted plenty of comment. "There is an immense degree of fascination as to how this latest twist in Murray's career will work," says The Times.

It is not unheard of for male players to have female coaches, but often, as in the case of Jimmy Connors, who was coached by his mother, they have been relatives.

Speaking at Queen's Club, where he will defend his title this week, Murray praised his new coach: "Just from speaking to her, she's very calm, she's a good person. I think we will communicate well together and I think that’s a very important part of coaching. I hope it works well."

Mauresmo, who was in France working as a media pundit at the French Open, hinted at the reason's behind Murray's thinking. "We all know his mother was a big part of his tennis career. I think he's maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things," she said.

Simon Briggs of the Daily Telegraph backed that interpretation. "Mauresmo is sure to be an acute tactical and technical analyst, as befits a woman who serve-volleyed her way to the Wimbledon title in 2006. Yet one suspects it was her people skills that marked her out from the crowd," he writes.

Despite his monotone voice Murray is one of the more emotional players on the circuit. "His wiring is complex," says Briggs. "[He] has had to search for his motivation, particularly when he finds himself in the remoter parts of planet tennis. He clearly believes that Mauresmo can help him on that score."

Having been coached by his mother, Judy, Murray "will not be at all concerned by the eyebrows that will be raised in the men's locker room, and even a Wimbledon champion can learn a lot from Mauresmo's grass court skills," says Russell Fuller of the BBC.

In some ways Murray's choice in unsurprising, says the New York Times. After all, it is "in line with the trend of current champions hiring former champions to join their teams — but with a twist", says the New York Times, which notes that Mauresmo has instantly become "the highest-profile female coach in tennis".

That trend of appointing former champions was actually started by Murray when he hired Ivan Lendl two years ago, notes Paul Newman of The Independent. "So perhaps we should now expect a flood of female appointments by the leading men."

He adds: "Murray has always been prepared to think outside the box and for a Grand Slam champion to appoint a woman as his coach at the peak of his career is unparalleled in the history of men's tennis."

It also reflects his view of the sport in general, says Newman. "There are people in the men's game who look down on women's tennis, but Murray has never been one of them."

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