Judy Murray: ‘We have to help our female athletes get acquainted with the superstar that comes with success’

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“If you’re trying to produce world-class sportswomen, you have to invest just as much time in making them understand the life and the business of becoming a top athlete,” she said on the phone with Telegraph Sport, behind the wheel of her. now repaired car. . “And one of the things that came out very clearly from all the conversations was how difficult it was for some of our most successful female athletes to get to know the superstar who accompanies the gold medal.

“They all talked about the consequences, of not realizing invasion of your privacy to being instantly recognizable everywhere, of being stalked on social media. Becky Adlington has had terrible experiences with this. We have to. making sure we see the full picture of our female athletes. “

Due to the additional resources built into men’s sports, Murray says they are better prepared to deal with the huge change in lifestyle. They also do not have to deal with sexist control of women. After 15 years of being publicly labeled as Andy and Jamie’s “cocky mom” and a “nightmare,” Murray could empathize with all women.

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The series is directed by award-winning Rosemary Reed, whose production company focuses on amplifying women’s stories. She says she has an entire series dedicated solely to female athletes “never been done before” on British television, and is a testament to the upward trajectory of women’s sport.

But there is still work to be done to improve female representation in this area, Murray says. As a member of a minority of prominent female tennis coaches, she was not surprised that many interviewees spoke of the lack of women actually working in the sport.

“What I found when looking for people who worked in UK tennis to come in as manager, PR, video analyst, physio or fitness trainer, I didn’t find any women. I had to take an all-male team – and they were all brilliant, don’t get me wrong – but it really opened my eyes and made me ask, where are the women?

“Victoria Pendleton told me that when she was feeling anxious or vulnerable, she found the lady who worked at the reception of the training center with whom to walk around at lunch time so that she could unload herself. She didn’t feel. that she could open up.We are different physiologically and emotionally from men, and one of my big things that I have kept trying to talk about is the need for more women in the sports workforce. Because women were once girls and women understand how other women operate. “

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This extends to administrators and decision makers. A 2019 report found that 53% of English professional sports clubs did not have women on their boards, and a Telegraph Sport survey in August found that a quarter of taxpayer-funded sports organizations do not have women on their boards. were not meeting an existing goal of gender diversity on boards. This trickles down to athletes, Murray says, and means women don’t have the same access to opportunities.

“When I became Fed Cup captain, it really didn’t take long for me to realize that you have to work a lot harder to make things happen on the female side of the game than on the male side – it doesn’t matter who you are. ,” she says. “They make me fight for a fourth staff member when in the last Davis Cup game, when I looked at Andy and Jamie, there were 19 people – five players and 14 staff – sitting on the bench.

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“In sport, the main decision-makers are men, so they always see men’s sport first.”

For her, exposing these kinds of issues and giving women the platform to do so will help spark conversations that will lead to action: “We need our female athletes to be confident and courageous enough to be able to speak out about this. what they believe. like Megan Rapinoe. And we have to empower them to do that. The series will raise a lot of talking points about things that still need to change, to make women’s sport a better place for women. We need to keep the feet on the ground gas. ”

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