PARIS – The identity of reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's new coach, to fill the vacancy left by his divorce from Ivan Lendl at the beginning of this season, had been speculated about, with many feeling French Fed Cup captain Amélie Mauresmo would be the choice.
And so it is, confirmed on Sunday just before the grass-court season gets under way.
“I’m excited by the possibilities of the new partnership and Amélie is someone I have always looked up to and admired. She’s faced adversity plenty of times in her career, but was an amazing player and won major titles, including Wimbledon," Murray said on his website. "I have a very strong coaching team already in place, but I think Amélie brings with her experience and tactical expertise and will push us all to improve. Everyone I know talks very highly of Amélie, as a person and coach, and I’m convinced that her joining the team will help us push on – I want to win more Grand Slams.”
Here's some video of Murray talking about it at Queen's Club.
Their agreement is for the short grass-court season, with the relationship to be re-evaluated after that. Mauresmo was out during this French Open watching some of Murray's matches, which only added fuel to meat to the speculation that the 34-year-old was the choice.
In a press conference at Roland Garros held just a few minutes before Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal took the court for the men's singles final, Mauresmo said Murray had contacted her a few weeks ago and they began to discuss working together. They talked again, more in depth, and agreed to give it a go.
Mauresmo has a Wimbledon and Australian Open title on her resumé, as well as a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the No. 1 ranking. She was helping Marion Bartoli when the Frenchwoman won Wimbledon last year. She's currently the French Fed Cup captain, the tournament director of a WTA Tour event held after the Australian Open and a television analyst.
If the relationship continues, Mauresmo said it would not be a full-time position – something Murray and Lendl had issues with before they parted ways a few months ago. But – again, assuming the initial trial period goes well – Mauresmo seems to have satisfied the commitment requirement. "Not the whole year, not as full-time, but significant amount of weeks that we have agreed on and should be good for everyone," she said.
Mauresmo also was the choice when another ATP Tour player thought outside the box a little a few years ago; Mauresmo worked with countryman Michaël Llodra during the grass-court season in 2010. The two are longtime friends and fellow wine aficionados.
What Mauresmo and Murray will find in common is to be determined. But they're not that far apart in age, and Mauresmo certainly had all the skills you would want on a tennis court as a player. And you won't find a single person who comes into contact with her who doesn't absolutely love her.
The story, of course, will be that Murray hired a woman as a coach, because that's still something rather unique on the men's tour, for whatever reason.
But Murray, coached by his mother Judy in his early years (Judy Murray is the British Fed Cup captain), and a major supporter of the talent in the women's game, clearly enjoys being ahead of the curve.
"We all know his mother was a big part of his tennis career. I think he's maybe looking for something different, about emotions and sensitive things. It's not really interesting for me, this part of the story, to be honest," Mauresmo said. "All I'm interested in is to be able to help him with his goals. That's about it. The rest is the story for you to write, I guess.
"For me, it's a challenge. I want to take it."
Certainly, fellow Fed Cup captains Mauresmo and Murray are already acquainted, as evidenced by this photo I took in Australia back in January.
Mauresmo didn't really see herself getting back on the travel horse after her retirement. But, when asked why a British player and not a countryman – or woman – the answer was simple: none of her fellow French ever asked her.
She said Bartoli wanted her as a full-time coach. "But we were not compatible. Let's put it this way," Mauresmo said.
Mauresmo said she didn't expect anything to change in terms of her Fed Cup duties. As far as her responsibilities with the women's tournament, she said there were a few questions marks surround its future, so any decision that might have to be made about that will come later on.
She's all in, ground-breaking and all.
"In a way, it's an event in the world of tennis and maybe even in the world of sport. It's the challenge that interests me, the professional challenge but it's not that simple, I'll have to meet it," Mauresmo said. "I will put all my energy and concentration into it. If that breaks new ground, all the better."