Evert urges Murray to sign female coach



London - Chris Evert, who knows a few things about winning Grand Slams, has urged Andy Murray not to be afraid to appoint a woman to his coaching staff if that is what he wants.

Tell a friend
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 27:  Andy Murray of Great Britain wipes his face with a towel during his men's singles match against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan on day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 27, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)Andy Murray has defended coach Amelie Mauresmo after Tim Henman began questioning their partnership. Photo: Nousha Salimi

The 18-time major champion joined the debate sparked by Amelie Mauresmo watching Murray’s first-round French Open match, and well-sourced reports that the two of them have at least discussed a position working with him.

“If Andy is thinking about having a woman like Amelie then good for him,” said Evert. “There is no reason why women cannot coach men and they have the experience to coach a top player. Why not?”

“It has not been done much before but that does not mean it would not work, it just has not been tried. If it is blocks of time then maybe that would be attractive. I don’t know how the personalities match up with Andy but she has a lot of experience to pass on.”

“I wouldn’t do it because I have my academy and media work but it is good that Andy is looking at women for coaching.”

If Murray ever wanted evidence of Mauresmo’s motivational powers then he would only have to ask his fellow reigning Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli.

The 2006 Wimbledon winner and former world No 1 was a major part of Bartoli’s team when she stormed to unexpected glory at the All England Club and that level of experience appears to have drawn Murray towards the 34-year-old Frenchwoman in the wake of Ivan Lendl’s departure.

Neither Murray nor Mauresmo was keen to discuss their prospective partnership on Wednesday, with the Murray camp declining to comment.

Mauresmo played down the possibility of it becoming reality, but separate sources insist that there has been discussion between them about the post. Murray - who faces Australian Marinko Matosevic on Thursday - understandably keeps his blinkers on during Grand Slams and prefers to squash potential outside distractions.

It could well be that if he feels comfortable at Roland Garros with just his trusty lieutenant Dani Vallverdu by his side there will be no appointment but Mauresmo seems to have been in his thoughts.

It raises the interesting question of how much impact a woman can have in the macho world of men’s tennis.

Evert was not alone in being fascinated by why Mauresmo should spend so much time watching Murray, as highlighted in Sportsmail. “It is interesting that Amelie went to watch his entire match. I can’t think why she would do that,” she said.

Another former French Open champion, Mary Pierce, felt the same, telling the BBC: “Anything is possible. I did notice that she was watching and I thought to myself, ‘Why is she watching his match?’.”

There are not many female coaches in professional tennis, with most women opting to be guided by men and a major consideration there is that they want the power that a male hitting partner - which many coaches double up as - can provide as the best means of training.

With Murray it can be argued that the best coach he ever had was his mother Judy. Against the odds and from a remote outpost of the sport, she managed to equip both him and his brother Jamie with the tools to make it in the professional game.

There is actually an example already of female-on-male coaching in the men’s top 100. Mikhail Kukushkin, the world No 54 from Russia, is coached by his wife Anastasia, who began the job when they were courting.

Mauresmo has been among the groundbreakers in this area. She was alongside another Frenchman, Michael Llodra, over the grass-court season of 2010 when he won the men’s title at Eastbourne.

Her TV commitments at the Grand Slams have decreased since last year but she would certainly find herself on screen enough were she to replace Lendl.

Around mid-afternoon on Thursday Murray faces world No 66 Matosevic. Although he rejoices in the nickname ‘Mad Dog’ he ought not to hold too many terrors on clay in a best-of-five-sets match.

Tell a friend