After dramatically winning his semi-final match in the Australian Open against Tomas Berdych on Thursday, Andy Murray praised his coach Amélie Mauresmo, whom some had doubted would properly be able to lead him to victory because she is a woman.
Murray and Mauresmo started working together last year, making Mauresmo only the second woman to coach a top 10 men's tennis player. A former world number one, Mauresmo has won the Australian Open herself, as well as Wimbledon, but that didn't stop commentary from those who were unclear about the fact that a woman could successfully coach a man.
Murray has attempted to stop that kind of talk several times, and notably did so after his win today, saying in a post-match interview, "A lot of people criticized me working with her and I think so far this week we've showed, you know, women can be very good coaches as well. (At this, the crowd loudly cheered in response and Mauresmo smiled.) Murray went on to note that of course other tennis players like Madison Keys (working with former great Lindsay Davenport) have done extremely well with women coaches – they're just women themselves, so their coaches don't count.
Murray echoed his comments to ESPN, noting that Mauresmo has "taken a lot of unfair criticism." That's been true from even those inside his camp (though perhaps not because of Mauresmo's sex): as The Guardian reported, Murray parted ways with his long-time training team in December after they were displeased he hadn't talked to them about firing his last coach and bringing Mauresmo on. (His former assistant coach now coaches Berdych, actually, making this match a little tense.)
Murray's match wasn't entirely a celebration of equality of the sexes: speaking of ESPN, their announcers spent some time discussing the engagement ring sizes of both Murray and Berdych's fiancees, based off (of course) a Daily Mail article. They even utilized a split-screen to do so, and crunched the numbers to demonstrate what percentage of the Australian Open winnings it would take to buy each ring.
Murray will play against either Novak Djokovic or Stan Wawrinka in the finals. "I'm very thankful for Amélie for doing it," he said of her decision to coach him. "It was, I would say, a brave choice for her to do it and hopefully I can repay her in a few days."