London: Judy Murray, who is a devoted mother and has spent years cheering her son from the sidelines as he worked his way to the top of British tennis, has revealed that she has been the victim of hate mail sent by fans of son Andy.
Even tennis legend Boris Becker has joined in, blaming her attendance for the 24-year-old professional tennis player losing last year’s final of the Australian Open.
Stung by the comments, the 52-year-old tennis coach and administrator has spoken out, saying she is simply at the big matches to give her son “a big hug” when things don’t go well.
She has also questioned whether she would receive half the criticism she does if she were a man.
“There is a sense that mothers are not supposed to be completely involved in their children’s sport,” a daily quoted her as saying.
“I know I’m not hugely popular. I have had letters saying what a terrible person I am. They don’t like my aggressive reactions when Andy is on court. They say I am awful. The letters don’t come so often these days, but it is difficult to change perceptions,” she said.
The tennis coach brought up her two sons, Andy and his doubles player brother Jamie, around tennis, taking them to games as small boys because she couldn’t afford a babysitter.
She made immense sacrifices to pay the 35,000 pounds needed to send Andy to train in Barcelona when he was 15.
However, she has lately taken more of a back seat in his career, not least because she is now coach of the Great Britain Fed Cup team in her own right.
“The apron strings stuff is ridiculous – Andy lives in Oxshott (Surrey) and lived in Wandsworth, South London, for a number of years before that. I have always lived in Scotland.
“But there are people who really think I travel with him around the world telling him what to do.”
“I only attend six or seven competitions a year. There have been times when I have been around more often, but that has been when he is having a tough time and needs support,” she said.
The tennis player has always spoken warmly of his mother and father William, with whom he lived for a few years after his parents separated when he was nine years old.
Judy Murray has a new partner, Phil Reid, with whom she lives in Dunblane, Perthshire, but is still seen, teeth clenched and fists pumping, on the sidelines of her sons’ tournaments around the world.
“I know that when Andy looks up, he wants to see some kind of positive reaction. You will never find me doing anything negative like shaking my head. Never, ever”, she added.