Andy Murray's 10 best feminist moments, from supporting equal pay to calling out 'unreal' sexism

The Independent

The news of Andy Murray’s impending retirement due to his ongoing hip injury has sent shockwaves throughout the world of tennis.

Tributes have been pouring in for the revered athlete, who’s been described as Britain’s greatest ever tennis player.

Murray has long been a staunch advocate of feminism, having used his platform to raise awareness of a plethora of women’s issues.

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From fighting for equal pay in tennis to highlighting the sexism that remains rife in sport, here are 10 of Murray’s best feminist moments:

1. Describing sexism in sport as “unreal”

In December 2018, footballer Ada Hegerberg became the first ever recipient of the women’s Ballon d’Or award.

DJ Martin Solveig, who was co-hosting the award ceremony, sparked a huge backlash when he asked Hegerberg whether she knew how to twerk while she was on stage, prompting many to describe Solveig’s actions as sexist.

Murray also voiced his disapproval concerning the controversial incident on his Instagram story.

“Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport,” he said. “Why do women still have to put up with that s**t?

He continued, saying that he’s been aware of the prejudice that exists against women within the sport industry throughout his career.

“I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal,” he said.

2. Declaring himself a feminist in defence of former coach Amélie Mauresmo

Andy Murray and Amélie Mauresmo on the practise courts at the Aegon Championships at Queens Club in 2014 (Getty Images)
Andy Murray and Amélie Mauresmo on the practise courts at the Aegon Championships at Queens Club in 2014 (Getty Images)

Following the announcement that former world number one Amélie Mauresmo had been named Murray’s new tennis coach in 2014, Mauresmo faced numerous sexist comments, including from within the professional tennis community.

Australian tennis player Marinko Matosevic described Murray’s decision to hire a female coach as “politically correct”. “Someone’s got to give it a go. It won’t be me,” Matosevic added.

In response to the criticism Mauresmo received, Murray wrote a column in French sports paper L’Equipe in which he defended his coach and declared himself a feminist.

He explained that his former male coaches, including former world number one Ivan Lendl, never had to deal with the same level of scrutiny as Mauresmo when Murray lost matches.

“Have I become a feminist? Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have,” he wrote.

3. Calling out casual sexism

In 2017, Murray was defeated in the quarter-final of the Wimbledon Championships by American player Sam Querrey.

While taking part in the post-match press conference, one journalist posed a casually sexist question to Murray that the Scotsman quickly corrected.

The reporter began his question by saying: “Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009.”

Before he could finish his question, Murray interrupted to note that Querrey was the first male US player to reach a major semi-final in eight years, not the first US player.

That same year, American player Venus Williams reached the final of the women’s tournament, before being beaten by Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza.

Many people praised Murray for his apt interjection. “Well said Sir Andy Murray. Teach em never to ignore women,” one person tweeted.

4. Encouraging more women to get into sport

As a young tennis player, increasing the number of women participating in sport wasn’t an issue that Murray spent much time pondering over.

He’s become increasingly concerned about the topic as the years have passed, as he explained to Red Bulletin

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In the interview, he spoke about how working with former coach Mauresmo influenced his outlook on women in sport.

“Inequality is something I started to see and become passionate about. It’s opened my mind,” he said.

“I’ve actually become very passionate about getting more women in sport, giving women more opportunities.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t thinking about stuff like that. But now I’ve seen it with my own eyes, it’s quite amazing how few female coaches there are across sport.”

5. Praising the women in his life

Murray and his mother, Judy Murray, coach young tennis players in Melbourne, 2011 (Getty Images)
Murray and his mother, Judy Murray, coach young tennis players in Melbourne, 2011 (Getty Images)

Judy Murray has become globally recognised as one of Murray’s most dedicated supporters, having coached Murray and his older brother Jamie throughout their childhoods.

She can regularly be spotted in the stands cheering Murray on, raising her hand in a powerful fist much like her son when he comes out victorious.

In his blog post for French sports paper L’Equipe, Murray expressed his gratitude for the positive impact the women in his life have had on him.

“I came to tennis thanks to my mother,” he said.

“I always had a very close relationship with my grandmothers. I’ve always been surrounded by women.”

He continued, saying that he’s always found it “easier to open up” to his female relatives.

6. Criticising Wimbledon over allegations of sexist scheduling

Wimbledon faced fresh accusations of sexism in 2017 when top female players including world number one Angelique Kerber and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko were relegated to outdoor courts for their matches, as opposed to playing on Centre Court or Court No. 1.

“To be honest, I was really surprised that I was played on No. 2 Court,” said Kerber, who was top seed at that year’s tournament.

Murray stated that he didn’t think it was right for the higher ranked female players to play on the lower courts, and acknowledged that the scheduling of matches at the tournament often favours the male players.

“I don’t think anyone’s suggesting [the scheduling] is fair. I’m not suggesting that it is,” he said.

He explained that more needs to be done to ensure that women’s and men’s matches are equally split on the higher courts.

“If there’s better matches on the women’s side than the men’s side, you can flip it. If there’s better matches on the men’s side, then that has to go first, as well,” he said.

7. Correcting John Inverdale over the Williams sisters’ Olympic achievements

While participating in the Rio Olympics in 2016, Murray was interviewed by broadcaster John Inverdale who congratulated the tennis player on becoming “the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals”.

Murray promptly corrected Inverdale with regards to his statement, pointing out that Serena and Venus Williams had both achieved the feat before him.

“I think Venus and Serena have won about four each,” he said.

Scores of people thanked Murray for “reminding” Inverdale of the Williams sisters’ tennis prowess.

“As if we needed more reasons to worship @andy_murray: he just reminded John Inverdale that women are people, too,” tweeted J. K. Rowling.

“Yes @andy_murray you win a gruelling four-hour match AND remind presenters women’s sporting achievements are just as significant,” another person commented.

8. Writing an essay about gender equality

Having made headlines for his comments about gender equality in sport in the past, in 2017 Murray penned an essay for the BBC about his increased awareness surrounding the topic.

“I’ve never set out to be spokesperson for women’s equality,” the essay starts.

Murray explains how working with Mauresmo provided him with a greater insight into the struggles that women working within the sports industry frequently face.

“My experience of working with Amélie Mauresmo gave me a small insight into attitudes to women in sport and, because it was unusual for a male tennis player to work with a female coach, I am often asked about that,” he writes.

“Working with Amélie was, for me, because she was the right person for the job, and not a question of her sex at all.

“However, it became clear to me that she wasn’t always treated the same as men in similar jobs, and so I felt I had to speak out about that.”

He also praised the top female tennis players for their commitment to the sport, saying that they “make those same sacrifices and are as determined and committed to winning as any of the top men on the tour”.

9. Questioning the placement of Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s gold medal win on BBC homepage

In 2015, Murray couldn’t believe his eyes when he noticed the placement on the BBC homepage of Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s gold medal win in the pentathlon at the European World Indoor Championships.

The news story detailing Johnson-Thompson’s win was situated lower than other arguably less significant sports stories, including Bournemouth football team beating Fulham and Rory McIlroy throwing his golf club into a lake with rage.

“Why is Johnson-Thompson gold medal story headline number 22 on the BBC sport homepage right now? Complete joke,” Murray tweeted.

Several Twitter users expressed their admiration for Murray’s show of support for the track and field athlete.

“Really impressed how @andy_murray is constantly standing up for women in sport. A proper #heforshe campaigner,” one person commented.

“Nice one Andy, keep highlighting these issues,” another person remarked.

10. Fighting for equal pay in tennis

Three years ago, former Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore sparked a heated debate about equal pay in tennis when he stated that the women playing in the WTA tour “ride on the coat-tails of the men”.

Novak Djokovic also weighed in on the conversation at the time, suggesting that male players should be entitled to more prize money than women.

While Djokovic later apologised for his comments, saying that they hadn’t been “the best articulation of my views”, Murray was quick to point out the flaws in the Serbian tennis player’s argument.

“One thing Novak said was that if women are selling more seats and tickets, they should make more. But at a tournament like this, if Serena is on Centre Court and you have a men’s match with Stakhovsky playing, then people are coming to watch Serena,” Murray said.

“Crowds are coming to watch the women as well. The thing doesn’t stack up. It changes depending on the matches.”

He continued, saying that there should be “equal pay, 100 per cent, at all combined events”.

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