Great British Women: Judy Murray on her success

Judy Murray has spoken on the challenges women face to reach the top of their chosen field at Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry event.

Murray, a Peugeot UK ambassador, tennis coach, and Britain’s former Fed Cup captain, believes that “for women to get to the top, they have to be truly excellent. For men, that’s not always true”.

She added: “Women need to stick together – we need numbers. It’s like snowflakes – we work alone we melt away. If we work together we can create snowballs, and snowballs can do a lot of damage.”

Murray first came to prominence in 2005 after her son Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon appearance, but had built a successful career as a tennis coach before then. However, she became known for being the mother of Andy and doubles player Jamie Murray and found the media attention that brought “the hardest thing to deal with”.

“I was the mother of two sons at the elite level, and I was pulled out by the media in a way you wouldn’t in any other sport. Wimbledon on BBC TV has no ad breaks, so the commentators and cameras have to go somewhere, so they go to the player box. I was always seen roaring and people thought I was demented and aggressive…”

She also spoke of how the negative attention affected her. “People wrote nasty columns and opinions don’t know you. So you put blinkers on and develop a thick skin. When Andy won Wimbledon though they forgave me for everything…”

She recalled one newspaper headline after Andy had lost his fourth Grand Slam title without success. “‘Ditch your mum Andy or you’ll never win a slam – Boris’ was the headline,” she said. “I’d never even met Boris…when he went bankrupt, I didn’t smile at all.”

Murray believes that competitiveness in women is still met with suspicion and not embraced, and after leaving her Fed Cup role in 2016 has made it her job to be “the female coach to stand up for women”.

Murray believes that while there is equality in tennis at the elite level on the male and female professional tours, the administrative and grassroots side is a long way behind.

She said only about 15% of coaches were women but almost none were at the elite level, even on the women’s tour.

“Coaching is the ability to make people feel good about themselves. Then you can influence and change behaviour.”