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Andy Murray is the latest feminist icon

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by Princy James

Andy Murray has earned a final berth at the Australian Open for a fourth time by defeating Tomas Berdych. Murray, whose career has been on a roller-coaster lately, has made a statement this season by delivering outstanding tennis throughout the tournament, the significance of which goes beyond the tennis court.

Yes, Andy Murray has put a crack on the glass ceiling; his Melbourne endeavour is a loud and clear message to all those who criticised him when he hired a lady coach - Amelie Mauresmo, last year. Following Ivan Lendl’s sudden estrangement last March, Murray went coachless, having only an assistant coach -- Dani Vallverdu, for some time.

In June, he surprised everyone with his decision to hire former World No: 1 and Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo as his head coach. That move raised a few eyebrows solely because a male player hiring a female coach was something rare.

It wasn’t just the curious eyes, Murray had to face a barrage of criticisms, although not directly. People took to Twitter and facebook to express their shock and displeasure; some of them had derogatory tone, aimed at Mauresmo, even questioning her femininity (Mauresmo had come out as gay in 1999).

Gender bias in sports still persists, despite the fact that conditions have evolved a lot in the last few decades, including the dissolvement of pay gap at the Grand Slams. Still, not everyone could digest Murray’s faith in a female coach, despite the fact that she being a former No: 1 player and Grand Slam winner.

The blame falls on the general mistrustful attitude of the society towards women in any field dominated by men. At Wimbledon, being the defending champion, the Brit was under immense pressure. A forethoughtful Murray, before the start of Wimbledon, made it clear that Mauresmo shouldn’t be blamed if his Wimbledon run comes to an early halt.

"I could lose in the first round and it certainly wouldn't be her fault," he said, adding that it’s silly to expect a coach to bring out changes overnight. As Murray doubted, his title hopes suffered a setback at the hands of young ace Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

The following month, after another quarter-final loss at the US Open, he dropped out of top 10 for the first time since 2008. But that phase didn’t last too long. Thanks to Mauresmo, he made a comeback by winning three titles in two months -- Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia; with those wins he climbed back to No: 6 position.

Gender bias in sports still persists, despite the fact that conditions have evolved a lot in the last few decades, including the dissolvement of pay gap at the Grand Slams.

Still, not everyone could digest Murray’s faith in a female coach, despite the fact that she being a former No: 1 player and Grand Slam winner. The blame falls on the general mistrustful attitude of the society towards women in any field dominated by men.

At Wimbledon, being the defending champion, the Brit was under immense pressure. A forethoughtful Murray, before the start of Wimbledon, made it clear that Mauresmo shouldn’t be blamed if his Wimbledon run comes to an early halt.

"I could lose in the first round and it certainly wouldn't be her fault," he said, adding that it’s silly to expect a coach to bring out changes overnight. As Murray doubted, his title hopes suffered a setback at the hands of young ace Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

The following month, after another quarter-final loss at the US Open, he dropped out of top 10 for the first time since 2008. But that phase didn’t last too long. Thanks to Mauresmo, he made a comeback by winning three titles in two months -- Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia; with those wins he climbed back to No: 6 position.
In 2015, Murray has once again managed to reach a Grand Slam final, proving his critics wrong.

In the match against Berdych, he showed great resolution by not losing his cool despite the former taking an initial lead. We saw Murray change his tactics, and at times, even take a peek at his notes, something very uncommon during a tennis match.

Later, in a post-match interview with Jim Courier, Murray duly credited Mauresmo, saying that he is thankful to her, when he was asked what Mauresmo, as a coach, has brought to his game. "A lot of people criticized me working with her, and I think so far this week, we've showed that women can be very good coaches as well.

I'm very thankful to Amelie for doing it.” He also mentioned about Madison Keys, the 19-year-old American who is currently being coached by former World No: 1 Lindsay Davenport. Keys earned much praise for being responsible in sending off Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams, before her dream run came to a halt in the semi-final.

“I would say, it was a brave choice from her, and hopefully I can repay her in a few days,” Murray further added. If he could do that on Sunday with a win against Djokovic, that wouldn’t be just his first Major in Melbourne, but also a victory against gender bias, a major paradigm shift in the history of the game.

Yes, with that statement, Murray has won many female hearts. .

RANK #1
Andy
MURRAY
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