Amelie Mauresmo has had a lot to deal with in her career.
She was the World No.1 for several periods, despite a reputation for “choking” at the bigger tournaments. Her talents were never questioned, but she was criticized for her mental strength after constantly succumbing to nerves. Before her first Grand Slam in Australia in 2006, she was often described as the greatest women’s player never to have won a Grand Slam (one of the four main annual tournaments). After winning Wimbledon (her second) in 2006, she joked “I don’t want anyone to talk about my nerves anymore.”
In 1999, at the age of 19, and just after she had reached her first Grand Slam final, she came out as a lesbian, and she has dealt with many hurtful comments since. Lindsay Davenport accused her of “playing like a guy,” and Martina Hingis accused her of being “half a man.” She had a hard time but has dealt with it with gracefully.
After her playing career, she then embarked on a coaching career in 2010 and was thrust into the limelight in June 2014. The British (Scottish) Grand Slam champion Andy Murray was the first top male player to employ a female coach, and their relationship has since blossomed with Murray starting to get back to his best form.
Murray spoke warmly of Mauresmo's influence after reaching the Australian Open final earlier this year where he lost to Novak Djokovic. "I'm very thankful for Amelie for doing it (agreeing to coach me). It was, I would say, a brave choice for her to do it, and hopefully I can repay her." Talking about the critical voices: "A lot of people criticized me for working with her ... women can be very good coaches as well.”
In a further recent twist to the story, Mauresmo is due to have her first baby with her partner in August 2015. Given their excellent relationship, Murray took the news well and has brought in a second coach Jonas Bjorkman to fill in while Mauresmo is away on maternity leave.
However, as is unfortunately still the norm in our society, the future for Mauresmo post-motherhood is unclear. If she can’t dedicate 25 weeks of her year to Murray (as before), then he has indicated that he might have no choice but to look for an alternative permanent option. Will she still be part of his team in some capacity? Will she have the lead role? How will motherhood affect her career?
As a huge tennis fan and a fan of Andy Murray himself, it will be interesting to see how things will develop. On a separate, but related note, given his recent marriage to his long-term girlfriend, Kim Sears, how long until he himself might become a Dad? How might this affect his famous intensity and focus?
These are questions for all of us to ponder. Personally I am certain that Mauresmo will be all the stronger for it, with Murray or without him. She is a great tennis coach and an inspirational person. Being a Mum will enrich her life, and no doubt motivate her to bigger and better things.