'I am excited about a future in which the playing field might be level for all'
Andy Murray has always been a keen advocate for women’s rights in sports, known to champion feminism, call out sexist reporters and remind people that female athletes are still athletes.
Earlier this year Murray called out a reporter for forgetting the Williams sisters existed, calling Sam Querrey ‘the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009’, to which Murray corrected, ‘male player.’
Grand Slam champion and new mum Serena Williams praised her friend and fellow athlete for his actions, explaining, ‘I don’t think there’s a woman player, and there shouldn’t be a female athlete that is not totally supportive of Andy Murray.’
She continued: ‘He has spoken up for women’s issues and women’s rights, especially in tennis, for forever. And he does it again, you know! That’s who he is and one thing we love about him. He has such a wonderful mother who has been such a strong figure in his life and he’s done so much for us on our tour. We love you Andy, Andy Murray.’
Now, the 30-year-old tennis player has gone even further, writing an article for the BBC about equality in sport, outlining his hopes for women in tennis.
‘I’ve never set out to be a spokesperson for women’s equality,’ he stated, going on to explain how it was working with his former coach Amelie Mauresmo that gave him ‘a small insight into attitudes to women in sport’.
‘Working with Amelie was, for me, because she was the right person for the job, and not a question of her sex at all,’ he explained. ‘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 continued: ‘Since then, I have been asked about women’s equality and I would find it hard to look any of the top female tennis players in the eye if I did not speak my mind.’
‘People often underestimate the amount of work that it takes to become a top tennis player – and that work ethic is the same whether you are a man or a woman,’ Murray explained going on to emphasise, ‘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.’
Murray went on to champion the idea of men and women playing sport together, stating ‘In tennis we benefit, of course, from having the game of mixed doubles, so men and women, boys and girls, are used to this idea’, going on to explain how some of the most fun he has had on the court has been playing mixed doubles with Heather Watson and Laura Robson.
‘Having a mother who was as interested and involved in sport as mine was, it has always felt very natural for me that girls should be as engaged in sport as boys,’ he wrote in his article, explaining ‘I now know that’s not the case, and that many girls drop out once they become teenagers.’
‘Female sportswomen rarely get as much air-time as men, and there are still not enough women in the top jobs in sport, but things are improving,’ Murray wrote, going on to praise the Grand Slams for paying male and female champions the same amount. ‘No other sport is doing as much as tennis,’ he continued, ‘and it’s great to be part of a sport that is leading the way.’
‘In general, I think the future is positive,’ Murray concluded. ‘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.’
‘Things are moving in a positive direction and I am excited about a future in which the playing field might be level for all.’