EXCLUSIVE: Judy Murray urges tennis to shed its elitist tag and open its doors to the masses
Judy Murray believes tennis needs to shed its elitist tag, as she warns the sport is facing up to “a challenging time” as it struggles to attract youngsters into the game.
Speaking exclusively to Tennis365.com at The Campus, Quinta do Lago in Portugal’s Algarve, the mother of Grand Slam tennis champions Andy and Jamie Murray spoke with real passion about her desire to take tennis to a mass audience across her native Scotland and the rest of Britain.
Even though her sons have blazed a trail in the game with their Wimbledon triumphs in singles and doubles competition, the boom in participation in the sport across the UK has not materialised and now this inspiring heroine of the game has a burning desire to spread her love for tennis far and wide, with Judy telling us there are obstacles being placed in the path of progress in her sport.
“I have a great desire to drive the sport of tennis to a bigger audience and that has never waned throughout my 30 years of coaching,” began Murray, who will be running junior tennis camps at The Campus, Quinta do Lago, throughout 2019.
“Maybe I have been helped by the fact that I never got bogged down in the politics of the sport or institutionalised by it all. I still love what I do, but I sense that tennis is in a challenging time.
“We are competing with more distractions for our kids now than ever before. They have computer games, social media and so much more to lure them away from sport and we have to try and reverse that trend.
“If they try tennis and feel it is boring, too difficult or too cold, they will go and do something else. That’s the reality. We can’t just rely on people showing up to play our sport and we have to work harder to get people playing and keeping them there. Too many are slipping away from tennis at the moment and we have to reverse that trend.
“To do that, we need to find a way to make it cheap and doable for everyone to play as there has always been a feeling that it is a sport for the elite.
“One-on-one lessons will always be expensive, especially if you are adding court hire on top of costs. If you come from countries like Scotland or Ireland, where the weather is often an issues, you can pay up to £20-per-hour just to hire a court and that is before getting a coach in for a lesson. Those costs quickly become prohibitive for a lot of people.
“That is why I always embrace doing tennis lessons with a large number of people on the court. It makes it affordable and can be very enjoyable when a large group get together and share an experience. If you have 18 people in a lesson, it reduces the cost per person and that offers the scope to bring more people into the sport.
“When you look at a one-on-one lesson… a coach with a basket of balls, it can look daunting. It may feel like everyone is looking at me from the sidelines and I would not want that pressure if I was trying a sport for the first time. We have to work harder to sell our sport in a world where there are a variety of factor pulling people of all ages away from tennis.”
Murray’s drive to spread her tennis message and the coaching methods she used to set her sons Andy and Jamie on the road to remarkable success is highlighted by her ‘Tennis on the Road’ programme, as she travels around Scotland with her coaching sidekick Kris Soutar to spread the sport’s message to areas it would not normally reach.
“We take the van into deprived rural areas and teach people how to play tennis in whatever space they have available and it is has proved to be an incredibly rewarding programme,” she adds.
“My Foundation will help to fund this venture and the idea is to identify a number of project areas each, deprived or rural, and we will develop a workforce of coaches in that area that means when we move on to the next area, we have left it in very good hands. We have three projects that will get going in January.
“It’s a wonderful way to introduce the sport to people who may not normally get a chance to play and it also gets us away from the elitist issue that I believe we need to take out of tennis so it becomes a sport everyone feels comfortable to have a go at.”
Judy Murray spoke to Tennis365.com at The Campus, Quinta do Lago in Portugal’s Algarve, where she will be hosting junior tennis sessions in 2019. For more information call on +351 289 381 220 to book or email us at email@example.com.
Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
Carlos Alcaraz’s comments reveal killer mindset as he beats Casper Ruud in China
Carlos Alcaraz suggested he sent a big psychological message to Casper Ruud early in their match in China.
Former Wimbledon champion on why Carlos Alcaraz is no match for Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are battling to claim the year-end No 1 ranking on the ATP Tour.
Novak Djokovic finds one word to sum up his Ryder Cup experience
Novak Djokovic was a big presence at the event as he took part in the pre-tournament All-Star match at the Ryder Cup.
Carlos Alcaraz’s Shanghai Masters draw revealed as he eyes Novak Djokovic’s No 1 ranking
Carlos Alcaraz has an open door to make up ground in his effort to finish as world No 1 for a second successive season.
Jack Draper reveals why he is a much better player in honest confession
Jack Draper insists that hard times breed better men.
Jannik Sinner reveals thinking behind changes to his team and dual coaches
Jannik Sinner has revealed why he has two coaches.
Carlos Alcaraz insists players have to adapt to big fuzzy balls
Carlos Alcaraz believes that players need to adapt to different types of balls if they want to be a top contender.
What is Tokyo champion Veronika Kudermetova’s connection to Russian army club CSKA?
Veronika Kudermetova has distanced herself from Russian Army sports club CSKA.
Carlos Alcaraz matches another Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal record with latest win
Alcaraz became the first player to earn 60 tour-level wins in 2023 as he beat Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti 6-2 6-2 in Beijing.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Paula Badosa give their fans the update they wanted
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Paula Badosa have served up the tennis love story of 2023.