i Editor's Letter: Tension for the Murrays

 

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The Independent Online

 

When I lived in New York, there was a TV ad in which a father stood on a court next to a machine firing a huge deluge of tennis balls over the net. As the camera drew back, it revealed a tiny girl on the other side bravely clinging on to a giant-sized racquet. The end tagline was something like "there are better ways to plan for your retirement". It was an ad for a '401k, or pension plan.

Poor Judy Murray. Here we are on the brink of yet another Wimbledon, in which her son, Andy, the fourth best tennis player in the world, will possibly make it to the semi-finals. There he may well lose to one of the outstanding trio gracing the top of the men's game: Rafael Nadal. Were he to vanquish Nadal, he would face Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic in the final! What a great time for men's tennis for anyone who cares — except perhaps for the Murrays.

Why 'poor Judy'? There she was in yesterday's Indy on Sunday having to deny — again — that she is a "pushy mum". So what if she is? Is it pushy to give your son a tennis racquet at the age of five as she did? Or hand him a golf club aged two, as Tiger Woods' father did; or buy him a go-kart aged six, like Lewis Hamilton's dad; or even have your daughters' entire careers mapped out before they're born — like the (admittedly eccentric) Richard Williams?

I know there is a special breed of hellish parent in tennis, but anyone who thinks a child gets to be a top sports star (or musician or actor...) without a few tears and screaming matches along the way is dreaming.

Instead of being suspicious of a Judy Murray, we should admire the incredible level of dedication, sacrifice, emotional and financial support that went into helping to get Andy where he is today. I wish both him and her good luck over the next two weeks. They will need it.

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