Always happy to voice his opinion on matters of import, Murray has declared himself to be a feminist and a supporter of women in sport and of same sex marriage. And it is the fact that the former world No 1 male player will fight the corner of the female athletes that has earned him so many fans on the WTA Tour.
Casey Dellacqua may not be a household name in Britain but she is ranked No 14 in women’s doubles and is a seven-time grand slam doubles finalist. She and Ashleigh Barty have already qualified for the end-of-year championships and this week, she is in China for the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. Yesterday, she and Barty reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6, 3-6, 10-5 win over Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. But the Australian has more important issues on her mind at the moment.
Back at home, Australia is going through the process of a government-sponsored opinion poll to see whether the electorate supports same sex marriage. Dellacqua is gay and she and her partner of eight years have two young children – the debate, then, is close to her heart. Despite the fact that she is not by nature a rabble rouser, she felt emboldened by Murray’s example to write a column last week on playersvoice.com.au in favour of same sex marriage.
“I admire Andy,” she said. “I admire the fact that he has the courage to stand up for things that he believes in, and he speaks up. I think that’s great. Obviously as a female, being a female athlete, the fact that he speaks up for equality for women in sport is huge. It’s so nice to have the male side, especially Andy, be so vocal about that. I think it’s amazing.
“This felt like a time that I needed to stand up and use my voice. I don’t necessarily think I have a massive profile but if it helps, I can use my voice to just say what I feel and think.
“I can see that Andy has been really raised well. He’s been raised by great parents that have instilled perfect qualities in someone to be tolerant, treat people the way you want to be treated, all those things that I think are important as a human being.
“I mean, it’s all great that we’re tennis players, but it’s also good to be a good human being. I can definitely see that in Andy. I played mixed doubles with his brother Jamie. They’re both beautiful boys.”
Murray has never shied away from controversy and when Amelie Mauresmo, his then coach, was criticised in 2014 for his failings on court as he tried to regain fitness after his back surgery, he raised the feminist flag and cut the critics down to size. On the testosterone-charged men’s tour, that was unusual. Yet, Dellacqua thinks, when Murray’s career is over, it is his words and actions that will remembered as much as cups and trophies.
“He probably doesn’t realise, but that has such an impact on the women’s tour, and for the females to feel I guess just a part of everything and equal,” she said. “He’s made a big difference. Credit to him for being a quality human being.
“I think obviously he has had a great career, but sometimes the legacy that you leave behind in terms of what you do off the court can be strong, as well. I think he’s done a good job in both.”