There has been plenty of speculation surrounding Andy Murray's choice for a new coach ever since Ivan Lendl and the Scot decided to part ways. Several names have done the rounds, chief among them Bob Brett and John McEnroe. Eventually though, Murray has settled for an accomplished woman to assist him to steer his career through its next phase. Murray will work with France’s Amelia Mauresmo, initially for the grasscourt season, before taking a longer term view at the end of his title defense at the All England Championships in Wimbledon. He announced his decision a few hours before the French Open final.
The Scot is currently in West Kensington to defend his title at the Aegon Championships. The Queen's Club event will play out this week, followed by a week of rest before the players start their campaigns at Wimbledon.
Murray is no stranger to working with a woman, though it is a rarity among the top men in tennis.
Murray was coached by his mother Judy during his younger days before he took to professional arrangements. Judy is now the Fed Cup captain to the British team. Interestingly, Mauresmo was in the stands, just a few rows behind Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears, when he playing his first round match against Andrey Golubev at the French Open.
In a statement issued to the press, Murray is noted to have said, "I'm excited by the possibilities of the new partnership and Amelie is someone I have always looked up to and admired," he said. "She's faced adversity plenty of times in her career, but was an amazing player and won major titles, including Wimbledon. I have a very strong coaching team already in place, but I think Amelie brings with her experience and tactical expertise and will push us all to improve.” Murray added, "Everyone I know talks very highly of Amelie, as a person and coach, and I'm convinced that her joining the team will help us push on - I want to win more Grand Slams."
"I'm really excited to be able to work with Andy," said Mauresmo. "He's an amazingly talented tennis player and I feel I have plenty to offer both him and the team around him. I'm looking forward to getting down to work and helping him win more Grand Slams."
Mauresmo is currently the Fed Cup captain of the French team, a role she may have to relinquish should she and Murray opt for a long term arrangement. And the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion is not new to the pressures of the men's game.
Mauresmo did gain some valuable experience when she worked with Michael Llodra in 2010 for a short period of time, even if Llodra is a player at a totally different level. She was also an important part of the team that helped Marion Bartoli win Wimbledon last year.
Earlier this week and the week before that, Murray was probed several times about his choices for a new coach.
Perhaps the biggest hint came when he refused to rule out a woman for the role. “I think when you get a lot of men in a room, there’s often quite a lot of egos involved,” Murray said, “and communication can sometimes be quite difficult because not everyone listens; when there’s an argument it can sometimes get heated rather than actually everyone sort of just staying calm. I think in those situations, women can listen a bit better and take things on board easier than guys. I think from a communication point of view, it would probably be pretty good.”
It will be interesting to hear him discuss the choice this week when he meets the press at Queen's Club. The selection will also cheer a lot of women around tennis, for a top player choosing a woman as coach isn't a really common practice. His comments about working with women have earned praise from the champion of women’s rights Billie Jean King, who sent out the following tweet a few days ago:
Amelie is a former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, both titles were won in the same year 2006. She is also a former world number 1.