Has turned down Andy Murray this year

US Open : Andy Murray - tennis legend and feminist

Andy Murray seemed annoyed by the question. Someone wanted to know what he thought of Sam Querrey, who became the first US player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 2009 - and who would be his next opponent. "Male player!" Said Murray, leaving puzzled faces. "Male player," he repeated calmly. Then everyone understood that the tennis player was pointing to the distorted gender perception. In the meantime, five of the American women have made it into a Grand Slam semi-final.

Murray also messes with colleagues

This scene from Wimbledon was a little more than a year ago. It was Andy Murray's last appearance at a Grand Slam tournament so far. The Scot has since paused due to a hip injury. The 31-year-old was only able to make his comeback in June, but he did not participate in Wimbledon this year. At the start of the US Open this Monday in New York, not only will the former number one in the world return to the big tennis stage, but also "the feminist tennis needs", as the Guardian once called him .

Murray has had this reputation not only since his appearance at Wimbledon 2017, which went viral. Even before that, the Scot had repeatedly taken a clear position on issues of gender equality in the tennis world. "It was difficult for me to even look one of the top players in the eye if I didn't express my opinion," wrote Murray in a column for the BBC.

To this end, he also messes with his colleagues. Murray has long been demanding that women receive the same prize money as men in joint tournaments. This is now the case with the Grand Slams, but the sums sometimes differ widely over the entire tennis tour. The Guardian has just broken down that 71 of the male players among the top 100 have earned more prize money this year than their respective female counterparts in the same world ranking position. Murray contradicts stars like Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, who justified higher prize money in men's tennis with greater interest from the audience, and turned the tables: The tournament officials are obliged to focus more on women's tennis, for example by setting up more games at the center Courts.

The Scot took his trainer under protection

"Female athletes rarely get as much airtime as men," says Murray. “And there are still too few women with top jobs in sport.” But he could at least change that himself: Murray did what is called “walk the talk” in English, and in 2014 presented the two-time Grand Slam winner Amélie Mauresmo as his new trainer. Even if Murray emphasized that he hired the French woman because of her suitability, not her gender, a historic step in tennis history: Mauresmo became the first female coach of a prominent male top player. "It was about finding the right personality with the right experience," explained Murray. "And if that helps bring more female trainers into men's sport, then that's a good thing."

Murray was well aware of the fact that women who penetrate previously male domains have to struggle with sexist hostility. During his cooperation with Mauresmo, he registered a mood of “suspicion, mistrust and maybe even rejection” among experts, but also players and coaches, so that he felt compelled to counter sexist criticism to his trainer with a contribution for “L'Equipe” defend. “The upsetting thing was that it was put down every time I lost. It never happened to my previous coaches, ”wrote Murray. “Instead of blaming me, you suddenly pointed your finger at Amélie.” In terms of sport, Murray couldn't care less about the criticism: In just under two years with Mauresmo as a trainer between 2014 and 2016, he won seven tournaments and worked his way back to second place the world rankings.

His first trainer: his own mother

However, the first coach in Andy Murray's life was his own mother. Judy Murray, former team principal of the British Fed Cup team, coached Andy in his youth. She can be seen as the impulse giver for the pronounced awareness of her son in questions of gender equality. "With my mother, who was so interested and involved in sports, it always felt natural to me that girls should exercise as well as boys," wrote Murray for the BBC. His mother let him train with girls, and to this day Murray emphasizes how much he enjoys playing mixed. Together with his colleague Laura Robson, he won the Olympic silver medal in 2012. He has also shown interest in a game against Serena Williams.

Such "Battle of the Sexes" has already taken place, legendarily including the duel between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973. King, a committed champion for equality in tennis, welcomes the fact that Murray joins the strong voices of women Professionals, like those of the Williams sisters, also joined by a male: “We need young champions like him to fight for equality.” She describes Murray as a “staunch feminist”. In his contribution to “L'Equipe” he asked himself whether he had become a feminist. His conclusion: "If as a feminist it is a matter of fighting to ensure that a woman is treated the same as a man, then I assume it."

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