‘Have I become a feminist? Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman should be treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have.” – Andy Murray for his blog for L’Équipe, June 2015 (The Guardian, “Good on Andy Murray and his feminism – Listen to women and be outraged,” June 9th, 2015)
Andy Murray has a history of standing up for the women’s game, which has often taken the form of correcting misinformed journalists in a very public way. His most recent “correction” of a journalist following his defeat to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon shows that he won’t stand for the women’s game being treated as inferior to the men’s game, and that anyone who makes that mistake in front of him will be subjected to embarrassment in public.
Murray did something similar at the Olympics last summer, when he told an interviewer that he was not the first “person” to achieve something, as both Williams sisters had done it before him.
Murray’s support of women’s tennis is not new. In 2014, his announcement that Amelie Mauresmo would be his coach was met with bemusement and criticism in both public and private spheres. The two-year partnership that he had with Mauresmo seems to have been a significant learning curve for Murray. It made him more outspoken about the issues surrounding the treatment of women both in tennis and in society. Murray publicly criticised media pundits, as well as players past and present, for not showing Mauresmo enough respect. The current World #1 repeatedly stood up for her when she was under severe media and public pressure, and he publicly called for more female coaches in the game. He also stated that Wimbledon needed to have a more equal schedule when it came to men’s and women’s matches on Centre Court. Murray’s support of feminism has earned him admirers around the world, and he has helped give the sport a wake-up call that it badly needs. The question is: why haven’t more players followed suit?
Prior to this year’s Championships, three-time men’s singles champion John McEnroe sparked controversy for his comments on Serena Williams’ supposed “ranking” if she were to have played with male tennis players. His comments were criticised in the media and by Williams herself, but most of the men’s cohort of players remained silent. McEnroe’s comments were revealing, because they exposed the lack of involvement in the issue of tackling sexism in both tennis and society from the side of male tennis players. Therefore, despite the wide respect that Murray has received for his latest support of the women’s game, it is evident that more male players need to join him if the issue of sexism within tennis is to be solved.