While she may not be a dancer, Judy Murray has arguably played a more pivotal role than any other individual in the revival of British tennis. After all, she gave birth to the last two men to win titles at Wimbledon (Andy the men’s championship in 2013, and older brother Jamie the mixed doubles in 2007), instilling a love of tennis into the pair at a young age and guiding their early careers.
But it hasn’t always been plain sailing. By her own admission, tennis led to the breakdown of her marriage, while both her sons were perilously close to being killed in Britain’s worst mass shooting of recent history.
1. Don’t You Know it’s Rude to ask a Lady’s age?
Judy Murray was born on September 8th, 1959, which makes her 55 years of age and a Virgo (in case you care). She was born in Bridge of Allan, Sterlingshire, just a ten minutes drive from the town where she and ex-husband Willie raised their two boys: Dunblane.
Until Andy became its most famous son, Dunblane was synonymous, in the UK at least, with Britain’s worst gun-related atrocity in recent history: the Dunblane Massacre. Thomas Hamilton, a youth organiser from the town who was subject to police complaints over alleged indecent behavior towards the boys under his charge, entered Dunblane School on March 13th, 1996, with four handguns. He shot dead 16 pupils and a teacher in the school’s gym, before taking his own life.
Andy Murray’s class was on its way to the gym when the shooting began.
Judy has spoken out in the past about her feeling of guilt over Jamie and Andy surviving while others suffered the fate of losing their children: “There were 50 or 60 of us – so many that I was sharing a chair with a girl I had gone to school with, who lived opposite me when we were growing up. A policeman came in and said that the parents of children from Mrs Mayor’s class were to leave with him. The girl sharing my chair said, ‘That’s my daughter’s class’. I don’t know if I have survivor’s guilt, but I had an awful moment then when I was so relieved it wasn’t my kids. And then feeling terrible. She lost her daughter.”
Judy retains a close connection with her home town. As well as Andy and Kim Sears marrying in Dunblane Castle earlier this year, Judy is the Chieftain at this year’s Bridge of Allan Highland Games. Her favorite event? Tug-o-War, apparently.
2. She Left the Family Home When Andy was Nine
While Judy is by far the most publicly visible of Andy’s parents, both he and his brother were raised by their father – William – for several years after his parents separated in 1996. William has said that “most people get the impression I was an absent father. That was not – and is not – the case”. After he and Judy separated in 1996 he “kept the family home and looked after them for the next four or five years. A lot of people don’t realize that because the story isn’t portrayed that way.” William added: “I wouldn’t say I was a single parent because Judy wasn’t absent, but I was the one in the family home with the two boys.”
Judy and William separated shortly after she had become a coach at the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). Judy has said that “I was away a lot and then you are coaching until late. Your domestic life gets hit for six.”
Although the pair lead very separate lives and are rarely seen together, there is one memorable photo of the couple together: at the Champions Ball shortly after Andy Murray became the first Briton to win Wimbledon in over 75 years.
3. She’s Captain of Great Britain’s Fed Cup Team
Judy was appointed captain of Great Britain’s Federations Cup team in December 2011, telling the press at the time that she hoped to emulate what she had achieved with her sons, Andy and Jamie: “I have learned a lot from the journey I have been on with the boys.” Indeed, her appointment as captain was greatly welcomed by her two sons: “They’re delighted because I’m not going to be cramping their style.” Judy missed Andy’s 2015 Australian Open final appearance because she was off on Fed Cup duty.
Murray has recently spoken out in favor of women’s quotas within the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) setup, and it’s easy enough to understand why: Team GB’s women are currently ranked 23rd (out of 99) in the world, behind such tennis powerhouses as Kazakhstan, Paraguay and Romania, and were delivered a straight sets spanking by Belarus in the Fed Cup group stages back in February. Britain currently has just one woman inside the Top 100 of the WTA Rankings.
4. She was Awful on Strictly
Judy appeared in the 2014 season of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, partnered by Anton du Beke (or Anthony Beke, as his mother calls him). Upon telling Andy that she was thinking of appearing on the show, he replied: “Oh my god, you’ll be absolutely terrible.'”
And how right he was. Yet despite possessing a dancing style more timber than twinkle-toes, Murray lasted fully 10 weeks in the competition; a testament to her popularity with the British public rather than the lightness of her feet. Du Beke was reported as saying Murray “was shit”, while the good lady herself admitted: “I hoped i’d be a bit better than I am.”
It has been reported that Andy banned his mother from dancing at his wedding.
5. She Says Andy Getting Married was Bigger Than His Wimbledon win
We don’t know whether this is just what mothers say, or whether it betrays a lack of confidence in her son’s domestic sensibilities, but Judy has said that Andy’s marriage to Kim Sears earlier this year was for her a prouder moment than him becoming the first Briton to win Wimbledon in over 70 years. Asked by BBC’s One Show whether Andy’s wedding made her most proud, she replied: “Yeah, I think so. I mean it was just such a happy family occasion. It was the perfect day from start to finish even despite the hailstones and the snowstorms that we had during the course of the morning. It was lovely, just lovely.”
Andy and long-term girlfriend Kim were married at Dunblane Castle back in April. For the record, that’s a cream coat and mink-coloured dress created by Joyce Young she’s wearing. It’s definitely not white.