Andy Murray defends new coach Amelie Mauresmo from comments made by Virginia Wade
The 1976 ladies' champion said she thought Mauresmo's appointment was "a joke"
Murray kicks off the defense of his Wimbledon title against David Goffin Monday
It was not what tennis star Andy Murray needed to hear on the eve of his Wimbledon title defense.
Having hired as his new coach former women’s No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, herself a winner on the hallowed grass courts, the Scot was looking forward to his usual home support over the next two weeks.
Instead, he has been forced to defend the Frenchwoman from criticism by British tennis legend Virginia Wade.
Before Murray’s success last year, Wade was the last Briton to win a Wimbledon singles title when she triumphed at the All England Club in 1976.
But in an interview with the UK Press Association Saturday, she said she thought his appointment of a female coach was “a joke” upon first hearing the news.
“She’s done it a few times before with me. It doesn’t surprise me,” Murray told reporters Sunday.
Wade had previously criticized Murray for acting like “a drama queen” during a French Open match in 2012 as he struggled with a back injury.
“The reason for working with Amelie was about finding the right personality with the right experience to help me,” Murray continued.
“I think she will help me. I’ve really enjoyed the last 10 days I spent on the court with her. It’s been great.
“And if it helps bring more female coaches into men’s sport – and women’s sport – that’s a good thing. Because there’s absolutely no reason why someone like Amelie can’t help me.”
Mauresmo won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon in 2006 and coached last year’s winner Marion Bartoli to an unlikely success, though Wade described the 34-year-old as having been “a little fragile mentally” during her career.
Murray, nonetheless, will be looking to capitalize on Mauresmo’s expertise as he heads out on Centre Court Monday to start his title defense against David Goffin of Belgium.
The 27-year-old has struggled for form in 2014 after undergoing surgery on a back injury nine months ago.
He has failed to win a single match against a top-10 opponent all year but will take confidence from his run to the French Open semifinals.
With Mauresmo on-board he hopes to become the first Brit to defend a Wimbledon crown since the great Fred Perry achieved the feat in 1936.
Their partnership did not have the most positive start, with Murray losing the second match of his title defense at Queen’s Club last week.
Despite the weight of history on his shoulders, Murray is keen to make the most of the experience.
“I think tomorrow, I need to enjoy that moment when I walk back on the court,” he said.
“But as soon as I start playing the match, it’s about trying to win. And I enjoy winning. I don’t really want to go out on the court tomorrow and enjoy playing and then lose.
“It’s time when I get on the court to start concentrating. Not think about last year, concentrate on this year’s tournament and that’s it.”
“I know there’s going to be pressure. That’s why today when I woke up there’s butterflies there. You’re one day away from starting the tournament.
“But I hope that I’m able to deal with it well. We’ll find out tomorrow.”
Elsewhere on Wimbledon’s opening day, top seed Novak Djokovic takes on Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan while 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych faces Victor Hanescu of Romania.
In the women’s draw, No. 2 seed Li Na of China will look to improve on her first-round exit at the French Open when she takes on Paula Kania of Poland.
Poland’s world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska opens her tournament against Andreea Mitu of Romania while former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka takes on Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in just her fifth WTA event of an injury-hit year.