Andy Murray will be surrounded by his usual battery of coaches, fitness trainers, family and friends at Wimbledon this afternoon, but one of the most important members of his team will not be on Centre Court for the Scot's semi-final against Andy Roddick. Maggie, his border collie, will be back at home, waiting to give him a boisterous reception when he returns tonight, whether or not he has become the first British man for 71 years to reach a Wimbledon final.
"She's very important," Judy Murray, Andy's mother, said yesterday. Ms Murray is staying with her son, his girlfriend, Kim Sears, and Maggie the dog, who is named after Rod Stewart's "Maggie May".
"The dog makes a huge difference," Judy said. "This morning, Kim went out to the shops and Andy wanted to be woken up at 9.15. I just opened the door of his bedroom and sent the dog in. She just tanks up and launches herself on the bed. She's under the covers and he's loving it. It's just so normal. He goes out in the garden and plays frisbee with her. It just helps so much to keep him relaxed.
"We actually have a lot of family around – his dad, his granny and grandpa, his uncles and aunts are all here – but they're not staying in the house. The best thing for him is that being in the house he doesn't have to worry about anything. Between Kim and I we can cover everything, eating-wise, washing-wise and the rest of it."
Ms Murray, who has also been doing radio commentaries for the BBC at Wimbledon, is used to getting roped in to help with domestic chores, having spent many an evening at tournaments washing tennis shirts. "You just keep on top of what needs to be done. He actually throws a lot of his stuff away to the crowd. I've said to him: 'Be careful with the match shirts, you've only got about six new ones left!' "
Had she been reminding him to shave and keep up his clean-cut image? "No, because there's no point getting on his case about anything this week. So long as he's chilled it's fine."
Team Murray will all be in their usual places in the players' box on Centre Court this afternoon, with Ms Murray at the end of the row. "I don't like talking when I watch matches. I like to just sit, which is why I always sit in the corner, so that there's nobody on one side of me.
"I have Kim on the other side, but she doesn't say much either. She's a very good supporter. She knows when is the right time to shout, when to stay quiet, when it's time to just do something reassuring or when it's time to shout 'Come on!' and really get up."
Tim Henman's parents rarely showed emotion when their son was playing, but Ms Murray has always been demonstrative in her support. During Murray's thriller against Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday she was up and down like a jack-in-the-box.
How aware was she of the television cameras that regularly home in on her? "You never know when they're on you," she said. "I haven't watched any of the matches on TV, but a lot of my friends have been saying that during the Wawrinka match in particular I was getting an awful lot of air time. But I would never change my behaviour because I thought there was a camera on me."
Cruel scheduling has meant that twice during the tournament Ms Murray has had to dash between courts in order to see both her sons play. Jamie, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title two years ago, is again through to the semi-finals.
Andy looks more to his team for support than his older brother. "He always has done," Ms Murray said. "It's not as though he shouts and screams at his box. Most players will do it. They just look up for a little reassurance and a friendly face. You get a bit of encouragement and it helps.
"Jamie doesn't look up so much. If he does something special, he might He knows when you're there, which is enough for him. As a doubles player he's always out there with somebody else, which makes it different."
Miles Maclagan, Murray's coach, is quietly spoken and rarely animated. "You won't hear Miles saying too much," Ms Murray said. "Andy says that of all of us, the only one he generally hears is Matt Little [one of his trainers]. He has a good positive roar. He's probably the loudest."
Does she feel exhausted after watching her sons play? "I think you probably feel more emotionally drained if they don't win the tight matches. I was so excited during the Wawrinka match and so relieved that he had managed to get through.
"I put a lot of emotion into my supporting. It's just the way that I am. It means I'm always shattered at the end of a tight match. The Wawrinka match nearly sent me to an early grave.
"I was so hungry after it that my first thought was: 'Where am I going to get something to eat?' The player restaurant shuts at eight, so I went up into the village and went to Pizza Express with my friend. I waited until Andy had done his press and then came back and picked him up."
While she is not generally superstitious, the first thing she will do this morning is head for the restaurant in the players' lounge. "On the morning of Andy's first match I came in early because I had some tickets to sort out and I had a cup of tea and a lemon doughnut. I've started doing that every morning, though I think it's just an excuse to have a lemon doughnut."
The next generation: Judy's grand plan
Having brought up two sons who have become outstanding players, Judy Murray has plans to nurture another generation of Scottish tennis talent. The mother of Andy and Jamie wants to develop a "European-style community tennis club" in central Scotland.
"I want to build a tennis school, but to have a club with members at the heart of it," she said. "I want the social side of it to be big enough to get lots of people involved. I want to get together teams of coaches who would work not only at the club itself but also at the local clubs and schools all around, so that you really start to grow the game and don't put the local clubs out of business.
"The facilities would be built to a high standard but quite basic. I want it to be accessible to everyone and affordable. The challenge with that is that in this country standalone tennis facilities struggle to sustain themselves, so I need to build this debt-free."
The cost of building the facilities would be about £3.5m. The Lawn Tennis Association has promised to contribute at least 50 per cent towards the facilities. She also expects Sport Scotland and the Scottish Government to provide support but is still seeking more funding. "It could be that there's a commercial partner or a benefactor or a charity out there that might help," she said.
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