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Judy Murray, the tennis coach who learned to grip every day

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Resilience.

It may be the “one percent” athletes they talk about that make the difference between a good player and a great player.

Friday afternoon, at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Jamie Murray, 35, is hoping to take his eighth major title with Brazil’s partner Bruno Soares in the men’s doubles 14 years after winning his first, the mixed doubles match at Wimbledon.

His younger brother, Sir Andy, was unable to come to Melbourne this year after testing positive for COVID, but he is expected to play in the three remaining 2021 grand slam events after a notable comeback from hip surgery that threatened his career. end in 2019.

Together they have 10 grand slam titles and two Olympic gold medals, but the “one percent” that makes them the best in the world and keeps them there is probably their mother’s contagious attitude to life.

“Life is for living, you hold it with both hands and you go after whatever you want, and you get the best out of it,” says Judy Murray.

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Judy grew up in a small Scottish town where her mother stopped cooking every year during the two weeks of Wimbledon and fed the children tennis as much as possible.

Judy dreamed of one day being like Yvonne Goolagong Cawley, the two-time Wimbledon champion who won a collection of other major titles in her own remarkable career.

‘Yes, I loved to watch Yvonne Goolagong when I was young. And at the time you only got Wimbledon on TV, that was all the tennis you saw, ‘she said.

“Tennis was such a minority sport in Scotland at the time, we didn’t have indoor facilities, so you played tennis in the summer and something else in the winter.

“No one ever aspired to be a great player or a great coach, it just wasn’t something that would happen.”

But it did. Judy’s days as Scotland’s number one player turned into coaching, eventually becoming Scotland’s national tennis coach and, for a period, coach of the Great Britain Fed Cup team.

Next week, she will address many of Australia’s high-performance coaches at the From World Class To World Best conference hosted by the Australian Institute of Sport.

It has been quite a journey.

She started out in the small town of Dunblane, with a population of less than 10,000, offering free lessons to the local children, eventually including two of her.

Andy Murray kisses the Wimbledon trophy.
Andy Murray celebrates winning the men’s singles final against Canadian Milos Raonic at Wimbledon in 2016.Reuters: Stefan Wermuth

At the time, no one thought anyone from Dunblane would become Britain’s first major champion since Virginia Wade in 1977. Andy Murray made it to the US Open in 2012, placing himself in the Big Four alongside Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who dominated the male game for nearly two decades.

A year later Andy won Wimbledon.

But in 1996 Dunblane made world headlines for a different reason.

On March 13 of that year, a resident, Thomas Hamilton, shot 16 children and a teacher before pointing the gun at himself in the Dunblane Primary School gym.

Another 15 were injured.

Judy heard the news on the radio and desperately tried to get to the school along with all the other Dunblane parents who had a child there.

For what must have seemed like an eternity, Judy wasn’t sure if Andy and Jamie were among the victims.

Andy Murray in his Dunblane Primary School uniform.
Andy Murray in his Dunblane Primary School uniform.Instagram: Andy Murray

“It’s been almost 25 years since the boys were eight and nine then,” she said.

“I was in the same situation as so many other mothers in town, we rushed to go to the school when we heard there had been gunfire. That was, of course, in the days before cell phones.

“We had no information, we knew there were police cars and ambulances in the school parking lots, but the gates were blocked and we all waited hours and hours and hours to find out what had happened.

“It was utter disbelief that something like this could happen in our small town.

“You don’t realize it right away, but I think in the few weeks after it happened, you become aware that life is so short that you never know what’s around the corner.

Judy returned to the tennis club almost immediately, giving Dunblane’s children and parents a different focus.

“Life had to go on, so I think it definitely made me think, ‘Whatever we want to do, let’s just go and do it.’

“That was something you would never forget, never believed you could have experienced something like this, but again, experiences shape you, sometimes they change you too.

“We will never forget, but the city has progressed tremendously and I think Jamie and Andy’s success in tennis has given everyone so much excitement and pride and connected the city to something cheerful and positive.”

Dunblane applauds Andy Murray on his US Open overall win.
Andy Murray fans at the Dunblane Hotel bar watch his US Open final against Novak Djokovic in 2012.Reuters: Russell Cheyne

Her commitment to basic and community values ​​remains unabated.

Today Judy runs her own foundation, with the aim of providing tennis infrastructure to every small Scottish town, while continuing to coach and mentor.

She lends her time to global programs like Sheroes, run by organizations such as Tennis NSW, where women are encouraged to volunteer, as she once did, using sports to progress into leadership roles within their communities.

And will she guide her grandchildren to become grand slam champions too?

“I will never experience that again”, she laughs.

However, you get the impression that she would like nothing more.

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