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Judy Murray: not just Andy Murray’s mum!

The truth is that I’ve never put pressure on Andy, or his brother Jamie, to perform or win

June 20, 2014 | By:

If you believed rumours she doesn't get on with Kim Sears, or judged her on that steely focus at Wimbledon, think again. Jeremy Taylor plays tennis with her and uncovers the real Judy Murray

Judy Murray_Andy Murray mum interview

Judy Murray: ‘I get judged by those two weeks I sit in the player’s box at Wimbledon.’ Photo from Corbis

Judy Murray has been branded the toughest woman in tennis. And regardless of how well Andy does on court at Wimbledon next week, the television cameras are certain to focus on her watching from the stands with that trademark, stony-faced stare.

Her tight-lipped grimace and clenched fists portray a woman devoid of emotion. She seems so wrapped up in the game that she has even been accused of ignoring Andy’s partner, Kim Sears, sitting just a few seats away.

Now, 12 months after Andy became the first British man to Wimbledon since 1936, has the joy of winning the All England title finally melted Judy Murray’s heart?

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“People who don’t know me think that I’m hard work and that just kills me,” she says, coming up to the net. “I get fed up with them saying that I’m some kind of a super-competitive, dragon woman.

“I get judged by those two weeks I sit in the player’s box at Wimbledon every year. The truth is, I’m a totally different person. I’m very driven but quite normal.”

Judy Murray and Jeremy Taylor selfie Judy is talking to me at Paddington Sports Club in London, where she is giving me a tennis masterclass. The 54-year-old trained Andy in his early years and still works as a Scottish tennis coach. She is also captain of the British Fed Cup team and was a player herself during the 1970s.

“There were times when I was blamed as the reason why Andy wasn’t winning. Some sections of the press said I was a bad influence, that I put too much pressure on him and that was why he couldn’t win a major.

“They were making out it was my fault and I found that very tough to cope with.

“I thought ‘Gosh, I’m just doing my very best to help my kids progress’. The truth is that I’ve never put pressure on Andy, or his brother Jamie, to perform or win.

“I had to remind myself that those same people were making a snapshot decision about me based on how I look when I watch a game.

“I’m going through hell when I sit in the stands. My stress levels are through the roof because I’m totally focused on Andy and living every point. Sometimes I think it would be quite nice if people could meet me and see who I really am.”

‘Kim Sears knows exactly what I’m like’

She pours cold water on the notion that she and Kim Sears are not the best of friends. Earlier this month, she was reported as saying that she was looking forward to becoming a grandmother – although not for a few years yet.

“Sometimes I sit beside Kim and she knows exactly what I’m like. I can’t make chit-chat to anyone when Andy is playing.

“Andy is very good at sorting out his own problems on the court but sometimes he looks up at me for support and reassurance. If he sees me laughing and smiling while he works his butt off, that just won’t do.”

Murray describes Kim as ‘fabulous’ and praised her for helping Andy develop as a player. The couple now live together in Oxshott, Surrey. “They’ve been going out since they were 18. Her father is a top coach, so she has grown up with an understanding of the life that Andy now leads.

“She’s not caught up in tennis at all and is a great diversion for him. You don’t want to be surrounded by sports people all the time. We shop and go to the theatre together but it often depends on where Andy is playing.”

Back on the coaching circuit

Looking slender, tanned and fit in a dark blue tracksuit, Judy says she is happy to be back on the coaching circuit again after several months ‘grounded’ at home.

“It’s unusual for me but Andy bought a hotel near Dunblane, where we lived when he was growing up, and I became involved in the renovation.

“Crumlix Hotel is a big, old country house where his brother Jamie was married three years ago. My Mum and Dad once had their wedding anniversaries there too.”

Murray also moved from Dunblane, on the Scottish borders, to nearby Bridge of Allan, 18 months ago. “I spotted this white house on a hill. It looked quiet, out of the way but I fell in love with it.

“It’s not huge but the views across the valley are beautiful. I will never move away from Scotland but I do spend time at Andy’s in Surrey, or with Jamie, at his place in Wimbledon. It’s important that a mum can sometimes cramp the style of her sons!”

Sears also helped with the renovation at Crumlix, which opened in April and has excellent tennis facilities. “Kim was in charge of the interior design. She has a great sense of style and had a big hand in creating the right atmosphere.”

Last year’s Murray vs Djokovic final

Murray says she can remember very little about last year’s Wimbledon final, against Novak Djokovic. “That’s quite strange for me because normally I can. It was forty love, deuce, then I was in tears. I could almost hear my heart beat it was so loud.

“At one point, I actually thought I can’t survive much longer watching this.

“When Andy climbed up the stand to hug me, I just remember thinking he’s treading on a very flimsy, canvas roof and I don’t want him to have an accident.”

Andy Murray may have missed out on the French Open earlier this month and then flopped at Queens, but his mum still believes that he can retain the Wimbledon title, which starts on June 23.

Part of the reason is that since then, Murray has appointed a new coach. Bringing Amélie Mauresmo on board has ended several months of uncertainty.

“I think it will probably be just as nerve-wracking watching Andy. It will be harder for him because of the back surgery he had last autumn.

“He is also defending a title, which is a very different experience. There’s no question he could win it, if he gets his head right. It will be all about the mindset.”

• Judy Murray is an ambassador for Head