ANDY Murray yesterday named former women’s world No 1 Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.
The former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, 34, is expected to be with Murray as he defends his title at the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club this week and will then aid the Scot in the defence of his Wimbledon title.
Mauresmo’s name was first mentioned last week when spotted watching every shot of Murray’s first-round match against Andrey Golubev. The thought that she could replace Ivan Lendl in Murray’s life was dismissed out of hand at the time – surely a woman could not coach one of the world’s top male players? – but neither Murray nor Mauresmo thinks the arrangement is odd at all.
He wants someone to help him and drive him on to win more grand slam titles and Mauresmo, as a former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, can do just that.
“He’s very open on this,” Mauresmo said. “He wants to win more grand slams. Andy contacted me a few weeks ago and we started to talk about this possibility to work together. It’s not really something that I was thinking about doing when I stopped being a tennis player.
“Then we talked again a little bit more about how to do the things maybe about his game, about different things. We came up with the will from both sides to give it a shot.”
Mauresmo retired in 2009 with 25 singles titles to her name. The following year she coached her countryman Michael Llodra for a while, so she is not new to the practical problems posed by being a woman working on the men’s tour – she cannot go into the men’s locker room, for example. But the dynamic of being a female advisor to one of the world’s best male players does not bother her in the slightest.
“We all know Andy’s mother was a big part of his tennis career,” she said. “I think he’s maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things. It’s not really interesting for me, this part of the story, to be honest. All I’m interested in is to be able to help him in his goals. That’s about it. The rest is the story for you to write, I guess. For me it’s a challenge. I want to take it.”
They will start work at Queen’s Club this week and once the grass court swing is over, they will make plans for the long term. Although she does not want to travel full-time on the tour, Mauresmo said she was willing to devote a “significant amount of weeks” to travelling with the Scot. Murray sounded as if it was the most normal thing in the world to hire a woman as his coach.
“I went through a similar sort of process to how I’ve normally done it [hire a coach],” he said. “I spoke to her a few times on the phone and when I was in Paris I met her before the tournament. We chatted a little bit about it, whether she’d be up for doing it.
“There was a will from both sides to give it a go and see how it works out. We’ll try during the grass-court period and hopefully we’ll both enjoy it.”
Mauresmo is not the first woman to coach a man on the professional tour. Denis Istomin, the world No 49, is coached by his mother and Mikhail Kukushkin the world No 54, is coached by his wife. Both Marat Safin and Jimmy Connors were coached by their mothers in the early stages of their career and Russia’s Andrei Chesnokov, once the world No 9, was coached by Tatiana Naumko throughout his career.