It’s been quite interesting to see the reaction to Andy appointing Amelie Mauresmo as his coach.
Obviously, it’s a completely new concept to have a woman work with one of the world’s top male players. But there is no reason why women can’t coach male tennis players and, in Amelie’s case, she’s a very creative player, with a wonderful feel for the game.
I think there’s a lot of similarities between the way she played, and her skills on the tennis court, with Andy’s game. Plus she has enormous experience as a former world number one and Wimbledon champion.
She works with the French Federation Cup team and she’s been around the men’s tour because she coached her compatriot Michel Llodra for some time.
They’re working together as a trial through the grass court season to see whether the relationship works on and off the court, so let’s see how it goes.
Players hire coaches for their skills, qualities, experience and knowledge. It shouldn’t matter whether they’re a man or a woman - it’s about being the best person for the job.
Tennis is a sport of immense mental pressure, players at times need a lot of emotional support. That’s probably why you see the top male players always travelling with their wives and girlfriends. Sometimes it’s just easier to open up about feelings to a woman.
With guys, egos come into play and you don’t want to lose face in front of them.
Andy wants to have fun on the training court again"
I certainly think women tend to listen more and spend more time getting to know their charges as people. The more you know your player as a person, the easier it is to find the right way to communicate with them.
Of course, there are lots of great male coaches out there but there are many who are “It’s my way or the highway”. They’re not really interested in listening to what the player has to say. It’s just a case of “I’m the boss and this is how it should be”.
But there’s always two sides to everything and if you listen, you’re more likely to make a suggestion that actually fits the player you’re working with.
I saw one report that mentioned the possible “stigma” of a woman coaching a man. There shouldn’t be any at all. It’s a bold move but I think it’s a very good move. And it raises awareness.
I don’t see any reason why you can’t have more women coaching at the top end of the game. At the moment we’re heavily outnumbered.
At grassroots level, the ratio of male to female coaches is 4:1. In the performance area that expands to 12:1. When you analyse the men and women’s tour, you can count female coaches on the fingers of one hand.
Obviously other factors come into play. Not every player can afford to have a coach plus separate hitting partner, physio, fitness trainer. They need to combine those roles to keep costs down and, in most cases, a guy fits the bill.
It is also very difficult to manage having a family with travelling up to 30 weeks a year. So there are obstacles, but in terms of what women can offer as coaches, they can have all the necessary skills, knowledge, experience you need.
It will certainly be new and fresh for Andy. He wants to have fun on the training court again and it will bring balance to the whole team having a female in there. Up until now it’s been all guys.
It’s almost time for Andy to defend his title at Wimbledon and I think he’s starting to show signs that he’s almost back to his best. The match against Rafa Nadal in Rome and the straight sets win over Fernando Verdasco in Paris were fabulous.
In fact, the Verdasco victory was one of the best I’ve ever seen him play. Of course I can’t predict what will happen at Wimbledon but Andy likes the grass, has huge support at home and now he has the massive incentive of a new coach which gives him a lot to look forward to.
He lost in the French semi-finals, but playing Rafa on a fast clay court is the toughest test in tennis and is for sure one of the toughest tests in sport. He was just on fire that day and Andy couldn’t find a way into the match. I met his uncle (and coach) Toni after Andy’s defeat and he said: “I’m sorry."
I said: “No you’re not. Rafa was far too good today." He laughed and said: "No, I'm still sorry."
So we’ll see how the new coaching arrangement goes this summer and it could be significant.
I really do think there’s a definite groundswell of determination to make more things happen for women in sport across all areas. Media coverage, coaching, administrators, more female participants, more female spectators.
We’re a 50/50 nation when it comes to gender balance but when it comes to sport we’re so outnumbered at every level.
I was hugely inspired at the #BeAGameChanger event last month by the number of influential women there - and men - determined to do something positive for women’s sport.
If we have a voice and use it, we can make change happen. If we stick together, we will. Bring it on, that’s what I say.