Tennis

Murray’s mum lives and breathes tennis

Judy, a big fan of Federer and Nadal, is proud that her sons care deeply about the sport

The National Football League (NFL) in America has been making headlines over the last few weeks, but not because of the skill, speed and athleticism of the gridiron stars.

Controversy has reigned over players taking "the knee" during the national anthem to protest the unfair treatment of minorities by police in the country, provoking the ire of US President Donald Trump.

The issue has reverberated throughout the sports world, and Judy Murray is aware of it.

While her son is a pretty useful tennis player, three-time Grand Slam champion and former men's world No. 1 Andy Murray is also known for being vocal, addressing issues like equal pay in his sport.

Judy, though, wanted to just talk about the health of tennis when asked for her view of the controversy raging in the US yesterday.

In a conference call yesterday, Judy, whose other son Jamie is also a world-class doubles player, said: "Andy and Jamie are very concerned about the welfare of our players and the status of our sport, keeping it strong and healthy and keeping it moving forward.

"They put that into the sport, so they think very hard about what they experience and what they feel the tennis tour needs to keep evolving.

"So I think the one thing I would say is that everybody's persuasions, that's up to them what and how they act in certain situations.

"But I would always say to the top players: look at what your sport has given you and how can you give back to your sport for the next generation."

Judy, a WTA Finals community ambassador, will be here for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, which will be held at the Indoor Stadium from Oct 22-29.

Serena Williams will not be here, though, as she takes a break from the game after giving birth to her first child last month.

Big sister Venus will be flying the Williams' flag, along with seven other players, including youngsters Jelena Ostapenko, Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova, making up a field that perhaps is the most open in years.

Judy, a tennis coach, believes the younger generation is ready to step up.

“The public will identify with either enormous success or with personality.”Judy Murray, mother of tennis stars Andy and Jamie

She said: "I think women's tennis has been very fortunate for many years to have some of the world's most recognisable and successful athletes with Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova.

"When they are not there, there are quite a number of players who are quite similar in level and capable of winning Grand Slams, so it's become very much more open.

"When Serena isn't playing, there is a gap that allows the others to have the opportunity to win some of the biggest events, which is great."

But the 53-year-old Scot says the younger generation still needs to form a bond with the fan base.

"Most of the younger stars are nowhere near as recognisable as Serena and Venus and Maria, so I think there is a job to be done to create more profiles and more personalities out of the players that are currently at the top of the game, so that the public engages and recognises them much more," she said.

"Of course, you need to create (more) personalities to bring the sport further.

"The women's side has had it through the Williams sisters and Sharapova, and when they aren't there, you need to be ready to try and bridge that gap.

"The public will identify with either enormous success or with personality."

Andy Murray became the first British man since 1936 to win a Grand Slam singles tournament when he won the US Open in 2012.

Mum has had a front-row seat watching the exploits of both her sons.

With Roger Federer, 36, and Rafael Nadal, 31, once again dominating men's tennis, critics are starting to question if the younger players have the same kind of qualities as previous champions.

Judy would rather celebrate the enduring talent of players of the calibre of Federer and Nadal.

"Men's tennis has really benefited from Roger, Rafael and Novak (Djokovic), because they have been at the top of the game for so long.

"It's good for any sport to have role models that everybody identifies with because they are constant."

  • Judy Murray will join Lindsay Davenport as keynote speakers for this year's WTA Finals Tennis Coaches Conference on Oct 23 at Conrad Centennial Hotel. For conference package details, go to www.wtafinals.com
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