Judy Murray the latest to be accused of accepting ‘sportswashing role in Saudi Arabia’

Judy Murray attends a match

Judy Murray has become the latest tennis personality to come under fire for agreeing to be part of a controversial exhibition event in Saudi Arabia.

Diriyah Tennis Cup organiseres announced earlier this week that former Great Britain Billie Jean King Cup captain Murray, the mother of Grand Slam champions Jamie and Andy, has taken up a role to help inspire young girls and women to take up the sport during the event.

It was announced that she “will provide masterclasses for aspiring coaches and volunteers, as well as taster sessions for girls and women” during the tournament, which runs from December 8-10

In a statement Murray said: “I am particularly keen to ensure girls and women are given an equal opportunity to enjoy and experience tennis, whether for fun, for fitness or for friendship. Tennis enables all of that and while it is a global sport that has produced some of the greatest sportspeople of our time, it is also, at the same time, a community where everyone can connect.

“That is the message I have relayed throughout my time as a coach and as a champion for workforce development: we need to remove barriers to participation but also to ensure we can sustain growth in participation and ensure that the community can unite to showcase how special tennis can be, regardless of age, gender or ability.”

However, human rights organisation Amnesty International has criticised the Scot for accepting the role as Saudi Arabia has been accused of sport to hide human rights violations in the country through “sportswashing”.

An Amnesty International spokesperson said: “While promoting women’s sport in a country which has long stifled women and girls’ human rights is a positive thing, it is important that Judy Murray should realise she’s being asked to perform a sportswashing role in Saudi Arabia.

“We encourage Judy Murray, as we would other attendees at the Diriyah Tennis Cup, to use the opportunity to speak out and show solidarity with those who are being persecuted in Saudi Arabia’s relentless crackdown on human rights.”

Murray’s decision is in stark contrast to her son Andy, who had admitted that he turned down a big money offer to play in Saudi Arabia.

British No 1 Cameron Norrie has also been condemned over his decision to sign up in the tournament alongside Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka.

Zverev came under from fire as he was accused of “making himself the puppet of Saudi oil billionaires”.

READ MORE: Alexander Zverev accused making himself ‘a puppet of oil sheikhs’ after signing up for Saudi Arabia event