Andy Murray lost in 5 sets at Wimbledon yesterday to Sam Querrey. Following the loss, Andy’s making headlines on two fronts – whether or not he’ll be taking a break from the tour to rehabilitate his hip and also for this:
Several players from the US have advanced to the semis and beyond at Wimbledon on the women’s side, of course, but because they’re women, they’re often not counted. Which is why Andy also spoke up about court time at Wimbledon earlier during the tournament, arguing that it makes no sense why more men’s matches are scheduled on the premiere courts.
And it’s not the first time Andy has advocated for equality in his sport. A couple of years ago, I wrote about Amelie Mauresmo. Very few male athletes are coached by women. And even fewer elite athletes at Andy’s level. While working with Amelie, Andy rose to #2 on the tour, the highest he’d been at that point in his career. But, as he said, even though he won more than he lost when she was coaching him, “She was slated every time I lost, which is something my former coaches never, ever experienced”.
Zoe Williams wrote about this in The Guardian a few days ago – this observation in particular stood out to me:
There is something marvellous about the insidiousness of misogyny, the way it never walks proud but lies in wait for failure, then pounces: its subject can never be sure whether it’s fair or not. Not even Buffy could defend herself in the half-light of self-doubt.
Amelie is no longer Andy’s coach. They ended their partnership last year because he wanted her to travel and train with him more than she could on top of her other commitments, being the French Fed Cup captain and also a new mother. Note, however, that he was quick to shut down any noise about whether or not gender played a role in the decision – by citing a similar example:
“Roger (Federer) stopped working with Stefan Edberg at the end of last year because Stefan Edberg wanted to spend more time with his family, didn't want to spend as much time traveling. No one sort of batted an eyelid about that. So in my opinion it has nothing to do with Amélie being a woman. It's the case of that it takes a lot of time to do the job well and properly. It's not easy to do that for four, five years in a row. Those ex-players that have spent 15 or 20 years of their life on the road for 30 or 35 weeks a year—they don't always want to do it.”
What he’s attacking here is judgment on two fronts: that a woman’s family concerns are an obstacle to being able to do the job – based on the bullsh-t expectation that family concerns are the domain of women only – and that a woman who has children and is able to do the job, and be on the road that much, isn’t properly tending to her family concerns.
You see that in Hollywood too. It’s rarely a question asked of male actors on location for months at a time what it’s like being away from their kids, if they have them. It’s often asked of female actors, compelling them to make a point of saying that it’s hard to be away for so long and having to find “the balance”.
Andy’s attitude and outspokenness on gender equality shouldn’t be remarkable. The reason it is though is because he seems to not have a lot of company. Why is that?
Yours in gossip,