Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s mother says she has been dubbed a pushy parent because she is a woman and hit back after Boris Becker suggested the player would be better off without her.
Judy Murray, 54, said that if she had been the father instead of the mother of two prominent tennis players, her appearance at tennis matches would not have engendered such a negative response.
She told Radio Times magazine: “I think if I were the dad of sons, I wouldn’t have been noticed.”
The tennis coach, whose oldest son Jamie won the Wimbledon mixed doubles in 2007, said that she had been deemed “the worst thing since sliced bread”.
She said: “There’s something about a competitive mum, especially when the children are male.
“Boris Becker had a go at me a couple of years ago, saying Andy wouldn’t win a slam until he got rid of me.
“I thought: ‘I’ve never met you. You don’t know Andy. You don’t know anything about us’.
“But because Boris was saying it, I thought people would think, ‘She must be an absolute nightmare’.”
In 2011, before Murray won the US Open and Wimbledon, Becker questioned whether the Scottish player should distance himself from his mother in order to win a grand slam.
“Is it the right decision for his mother and the whole team to be around? Maybe he needs someone around who has won a grand slam,” the three-times Wimbledon champion was quoted as saying.
She said of her pushy parent reputation: “I have my own life and I’m always busy. If I want to see my children, watching them play is often the easiest way.
“I don’t smile when I watch Andy because I’m totally focused. If he looks up, he doesn’t want to see me laughing. But if you ask anyone else I work with, I love having fun.”
She praised her son’s new coach, 2006 Wimbledon ladies’ champion Amelie Mauresmo, and gushed about another woman in Murray’s life - his girlfriend Kim Sears.
“She’s fabulous,” she told the magazine of his girlfriend. “I tell Andy how lucky he is. She makes amazing red velvet cupcakes. I’m serious about cake. A Victoria sponge with jam in the middle and icing on top is heaven.”
The Great Britain Federation Cup captain, who is launching a project to get young girls into tennis by using “nail stickers, bows in their hair” and “colouring in”, said of her previous role as her son’s coach: “In my case I always recognised my limitations and wanted to find the right person to work with Andy at the right time. That was what mattered. His new choice is great.”
She said that she only gets “emotional” about her sons’ wins at Wimbledon when she is in her home town of Dunblane.
“If I give a little speech at a kids’ tournament or something, I find it very emotional. I did one the other day and I was really struggling,” she told the magazine.
“When you’ve gone through a really dark, tragic time, and then come to a real high, I hope it helps people to feel something really positive about the town.”
She described the moment in 1996 when she heard about the shootings in the primary school, where her sons, then 10 and eight, were at the time.
She recalled her mother running up to her and saying, “’There’s been a shooting at the school. You need to go.’
“I picked up my car keys - didn’t take my bag or jacket or anything - and just ran out,” she said.
“I was driving there, thinking I might not see my children again. There were too many cars on the road - everyone was trying to get there. I got angry, shouting, ‘Get out of the way!’ About a quarter of a mile away I just got out and ran.
“But the school gates were closed. There were ambulances and police cars. I was standing with the other parents outside, just waiting. We couldn’t go in. People weren’t frantic. They were shocked, quiet. It was before mobile phones. Nobody knew anything. It was much later before we knew that even one person had died.”
She said: “We were moved to a room and then waited for absolutely hours before we knew what had happened or which class it was. There were 50 or 60 of us - so many that I was sharing a chair with a girl I had gone to school with, who lived opposite me when we were growing up.
“A policeman came in and said that the parents of children from Mrs Mayor’s class were to leave with him. The girl sharing my chair said, ‘That’s my daughter’s class’. I don’t know if I have survivor’s guilt, but I had an awful moment then when I was so relieved it wasn’t my kids. And then feeling terrible. She lost her daughter.
“I can’t really remember when I first saw Jamie and Andy again. All they had been told was that there was a man in the school with a gun. Jamie’s class was in a prefab building, and he told me they thought someone was knocking on the roof with a hammer. They could hear the noise, but you’d never think of gunfire.”
She told the magazine: “Andy’s class had been on their way to the gym. That’s how close he was to what happened. They heard the noise and someone went ahead to investigate. They came back and told all the kids to go to the headmaster’s study and the deputy head’s study.
“They were told to sit down below the windows and they were singing songs. The teachers and dinner ladies did an amazing job, containing all these children, feeding them, and getting them out without them being aware of what had happened. I don’t know how they managed it.”
She said of the massacre: “For days afterwards Dunblane was a ghost town. No-one went out. I had friends who had lost children, so I went to the funerals. It was impossible to believe something like that could happen in your little town. Sometimes it still is.”