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Masters: Murray hires Mauresmo ahead of Wimbledon defence

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Mark Masters
6/8/2014 11:53:29 AM
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PARIS - Amélie Mauresmo was officially appointed Andy Murray's coach on Sunday as the British star prepares to embark on the grass-court season and defend his Wimbledon title.

There are a handful of women coaching players on the ATP Tour, but none with anywhere close to the profile of Murray, a two-time Grand Slam winner and Olympic gold medallist.

"Amélie is someone I have always looked up to and admired," Murray said in a statement. "She's faced adversity plenty of times in her career, but was an amazing player."

It is rare for an elite men's player to be mentored by a woman, especially one who is not related to him. Jimmy Connors was once coached by his mother. Billie Jean King coached Tim Mayotte for a short time. Andrei Chesnokov was coached by Tatiana Naumko.

Early in the French Open, Murray was asked about the possibility of hiring a female coach and how that may be received by his peers.

"For me, I don't care," said Murray, who had been without a coach since parting ways with Ivan Lendl in March. "I don't really care whether some of the other male players like it or not. That's not something that really bothers me. I was coached by my mum for a long time. I have had her around at tournaments for a long time. There has been ex-players and stuff that have said, 'Oh, your mom shouldn't be around,' or, 'She shouldn't come and support you or come to watch.' You know, it's silly.

"Everyone is entitled to have the team around them that they want. Everyone works very differently. You know, some men might not work well with a female. Some men might work well with a female coach. It's just whatever your preference is and whatever your needs are. That's basically it."

Judy Murray, Andy's mum, weighed in on Twitter saying, "Love it," in response to the news.

Mauresmo, a former world No. 1, who won Wimbledon and the Australian Open, held a news conference in Paris just moments before the start of the men's French Open championship match between Rafael Nadal, coach by his Uncle Toni, and Novak Djokovic, who is coached by Boris Becker.

The following is a transcript of Mauresmo's exchange with reporters:

Q. What was the moment when you thought that you would take over as coach of Andy Murray?  What is it about the job that is fascinating to you?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO:  Andy contacted me a few weeks ago and we started to talk about this possibility to work, to be working together.  It's not really something that I was thinking doing when I stopped being a tennis player. Then we talked again a little bit more about how to do the things maybe about his game, about different things. We came up with the will from both sides to, yeah, to give it a shot.

Q. Could you talk a bit about the fact obviously you're a woman, he's a man.  Do you consider that of any relevance, or do you see it possibly as a positive advantage for you?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I would say that, yeah, I mean, it's probably something that have to you ask him at some point why he made this choice.  We all know his mother was a big part of his tennis career. I think he's maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things.  It's not really interesting for me, this part of the story, to be honest.  All I'm interested in is to be able to help him in his goals.  That's about it.  The rest is the story for you to write, I guess. But, yeah, for me it's a challenge.  I want to take it.

Q. Can you tell us what areas of Andy's game you believe you can be the most help to him in?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: I don't think I'm going to go into these details right now.  I think we really get to know each other, really get to start, and actually start working together. We'll maybe talk about it at some point.

Q. He had obviously choices and people to consider.  When he contacted you the first time, did he say, Amélie, the reason I decided that you would be the right person is because you could bring me this or this that?  Did he give you a reason why he thought of you?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Yeah, he did.

Q. Can you tell us what it is?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Not really (Laughter). Not really. I mean, maybe he will tell you at some point.

Q. Have you watched his game much over the years?  Did you have any sort of relationship with him?  Were you surprised when he rang?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: We didn't really talk to each other more than just greeting each other and stuff.  I have watched him play, yes, many times. Again, we have talked a little bit already about his game.  We definitely going to get more into this very soon, I guess.

Q. Were you surprised when he rang?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: It was a little bit of a surprise, yes.  To be honest, yes.

Q. This will obviously get a lot of attention because you are a woman going to be coaching a top man.  Do you think it is an important step for men's sport for somebody to make this decision?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Again, I mean, I guess it is a big story to write on and a step forward. But honestly, it's not my big concern right now.  I'm happy about this new challenge.  I want to help Andy.  It's the only thing that I have in mind right now.

Q. I think the reason why Andy stopped working with Ivan Lendl is Ivan said he didn't have enough time to spend with him.  You will be available to travel with Andy throughout the year, will you?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: We have already, yes, talked about this.  Yeah, not the whole year, not as fulltime, but, yes, significant amount of weeks that we have agreed on and should be good for everyone.

Q.  From your point of view, what do you expect to achieve with Andy and what would make the job a success for you?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Well, it's quite easy for me to answer this, and he's very open on this.  He wants to win more Grand Slam or Grand Slams, so I guess that's what it is.

Q. You were in a comfortable position as a TV consultant.

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: Yeah, I was sitting.  Now I will be...

Q. You will have almost the same pressure as Andy.  The expectations will be high.  So what was the reason for you to accept such a tough challenge?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: First of all, I think he has the most pressure.  That's for sure when you're a player, and I know what it is.  You have huge pressure on your shoulders.  This will remain this way. Yes, it will change a little bit my life and my retirement, let's say.  But I'm passionate.  I'm passionate about this sport.  I love challenges. I don't know, I guess I like to put myself on the line at some point and see what I can do.

Q. We all know that since Billie Jean, a big part of the WTA, has been about the empowerment of women and opportunities.  We all know also it's extremely difficult for WTA players.  What were your thoughts that Ernests Gulbis made the other day that he would not want his sisters to go into tennis and that it's very tough and they should be focusing on families?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO:  I know him a little bit.  I think you guys also know him quite a lot.  He's provocative at some point.  I'm not sure he was really thinking this way. He explained a little bit later why he said this.  I'm not really I'm not shocked by this because I know him.  I know how he is.

Q. How long is your commitment with Andy?

AMÉLIE MAURESMO: We are going to do the grass court season and we will talk after that.

Amelie Mauresmo (Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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