Andy Murray never meant to be a spokesperson for women's equality in sports, he writes in an op-ed for BBC. But the two-time Wimbledon champion ended up being one, anyway, simply for speaking out when he felt that someone was treating women in tennis unfairly.
After winning a second consecutive Olympic gold medal in 2016, Murray quietly called out a reporter for saying he was the first tennis player to win multiple gold medals. "I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each," he said.
During Wimbledon a year later, he criticised the event's scheduling as sexist — making women play a majority of their games on lower courts. And again called out sexism in a reporter's questions.
When a reporter said that Sam Querrey was "the first U.S. player to reach a major semifinal since 2009," Murray quickly reminded him that Querrey wasn't the first U.S. player to do so, he was the first U.S. male player.
It's moments like these that have set Andy Murray up as a male feminist icon in sports, though he was simply calling out moments when reporters were wrong or tournament organisers were clearly favouring men. His BBC op-ed reveals why Murray, among all of the men who play tennis and don't call out subtle sexism, feels the need to stand up for women — and it has to do with some pretty amazing women in his life.
Murray's mother, Judy Murray, has always been involved in sports, he wrote, and currently runs a program called Miss-Hits, to teach young girls the basics of tennis. He also trained with a woman, Amelie Mauresmo, which is almost unheard of in sports — for a man to have a woman coach.
"Working with Amelie was, for me, because she was the right person for the job, and not a question of her sex at all," Murray wrote. "However, it became clear to me that she wasn't always treated the same as men in similar jobs, and so I felt I had to speak out about that."
Overall, though, he speaks out because he knows how much work goes into becoming a top tennis athlete, and that work isn't any different based on someone's gender so why should gender make anything else different, either?
"I would find it hard to look any of the top female tennis players in the eye if I did not speak my mind," he wrote.
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