Many a lesser man would swerve the accolade of ‘feminist’ faster than a 100mph serve – but not Andy Murray.
No, Murray is working hard to keep his ‘feminist hero’ title firmly in place. Time and time again, the Scottish tennis pro has proven himself to be one of our most enduring and constant male feminist allies – and he’s just done it again, penning a whole article on how women are treated in the sport.
Previously, he’s consistently taken a firm stance on equal pay. Remember the offensive and sexist comments made by Indian Wells Tennis Gardens CEO Raymond Moore, and later supported by number one seeded player Novak Djokovic last year?
Moore claimed that women’s tennis “rides on the coattails” of the men’s game, and that “lady players” should “go down every night on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born”.
Following Moore’s resignation, Murray didn’t stay silent on the subject. Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Miami Open, Murray told reporters: “I think there should be equal pay, 100%, at all combined events. The timing of [Moore’s remarks] was just so strange, right before a great women’s final, there were 16,000 people in the stadium waiting to see them play.
“The whole thing was very strange and very disappointing. I don’t understand at all where he was coming from with those comments. It made no sense at all.”
And then, only two months ago, after having suffered a devastating loss to Sam Querrey just hours before in Wimbledon 2017, Murray absolutely refused to let journalists (and the patriarchy) trample all over women’s sporting achievements with a throwaway question.
During the post-match press conference, one reporter began asking Murray a question, saying: “Sam [Querrey] is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009…”
But, before he had time to finish that grossly inaccurate statement, Murray raised his head, looked the journalist dead in the eye, and raised his voice to remind him of a very important fact. “Male player,” he said coolly.
And just like that, Murray once again shut down casual sexism in sport.
Now the sports star has written an article for the BBC (published 18 September) about his high hopes for the future of women’s tennis.
In the piece, Murray addresses his decision to appoint fellow tennis player Amelie Mauresmo – and two-time Grand Slam singles title winner – as his coach in 2014. A controversial move to some, as, you know, she’s not a man.
“Working with Amelie was, for me, because she was the right person for the job, and not a question of her sex at all. However, it became clear to me that she wasn't always treated the same as men in similar jobs, and so I felt I had to speak out about that,” he wrote.
Working together for two years, the pair mutually parted ways in 2016 – but for Murray it gave him a “small insight” into how differently men and women are treated in the sporting world.
The tennis ace then proceeds to say that he would find it difficult to “look any of the top female tennis players in the eye” if he didn’t speak his mind.
From hitting the gym to playing on court, Murray stresses that women work just as hard as men.
“Anyone who has spent any time with any of the top women will know that they make those same sacrifices and are as determined and committed to winning as any of the top men on the tour,” he wrote.
As a youngster Murray would play tennis against girls, and he believed it be invaluable. Encouraging mixed playing is something he’s keen to promote. His mum, Judy Murray, who has been a constant point of support, encouragement and inspiration in his life, has set up Miss-Hits for teaching girls to play tennis – but “currently boys outnumber girls four to one in the sport”.
But Murray is truly hopeful for the future of women’s tennis.
“Female sportswomen rarely get as much airtime as men, and there are still not enough women in the top jobs in sport, but things are improving,” he wrote.
“In general, I think the future is positive. We've got more female role models than ever before, more female commentators than ever before and more people championing the rights for women in sport than ever before.”
Images: Getty / Rex Features