When Cerno Capital’s James Spence met Judy Murray at the BTSport Action Woman of the Year Awards last December they instantly hit it off. So much so that when James asked Judy if she might come along and speak at an event organised by Cerno Capital, she agreed whole heartedly.
Some six months later and the team at Cerno were pleased that Judy Murray – the mother of the World No 3 Andy Murray, Wimbledon Doubles Champion Jamie Murray, captain of the British Fed Cup team and TV star – was still keen to devote a wet and windy Wednesday afternoon in Glasgow.
Weather notwithstanding, Judy graced us, 50 Glasgow and Edinburgh based IFAs, and journalists from several Scottish national newspapers with both her presence and her wisdom. Renowned sports journalist Sue Mott was present from BTSport with Maureen McGonigle also present to represent Scottish Women in Sport (www.scottishwomeninsport.co.uk). The discussion took place in the Arthouse Hotel, chaired by BTSport journalist Eleanore Kelly with opportunities for everybody present to ask questions. Interestingly most of the questions posed by guests revealed that Strictly Come Dancing is a popular TV choice in the world of finance.
The invitation was sent out to companies across Scotland and it was apparent that our somewhat unorthodox approach to networking was a success, with the vast majority of those agreeing to give up their lunch hour to meet Judy and Cerno Capital. Judy did not disappoint – entertaining and inspiring us all with tales about her sons growing up, the journey to stardom, the glamorous but cut-throat world of professional tennis, not to mention the blood, sweat and tears it took to propel them all there.
If indeed “pressure is a privilege”, to Judy pressure largely meant a lack of financial resources to support her two talented sportsmen as sons. Clearly a woman of determination, guts and tenacity Judy explained how it was not unusual to juggle three jobs at a time, borrowing money in order to pay for her sons to train with the best possible coaches to help the fulfil their potential. Her story inspired us all- a young girl in Scotland with a burning ambition to play tennis professionally- which she did despite the lack of training opportunities and resources. Later on a single mother forgoing family events and other obligations in order to do the best for her children in her role as coach, mother and the main bread-winner. Despite the pressures, Judy recounts that she never saw it as a “sacrifice or compromise” to allow her sons to fulfil their dreams of playing professional tennis. Of course, she also mentioned the pressures of overcoming her stage fright and “two left feet” to win over both the media and the British public on Strictly Come Dancing last year.
It is no secret that Judy was responsible for coaching her sons in their formative years of tennis and has she has continued her interest in developing and motivating others in the game. She has fuelled several initiatives to develop and encourage not only young female tennis players but also her fellow coaches. These include Miss-Hits (www.miss-hits.co.uk) aimed at girls between the ages of 5 and 8 and Tennis on the Road (www.tennisontheroad.com) – where Judy and her team of coaches “drive around in a white van” introducing and developing tennis abilities for children in Scotland as well as also training coaches to deliver these skills. The decision to implicate such initiatives stemmed from Judy’s witnessing of how few girls are selected as “on track” to play professional tennis. “I decided that we need to create a legacy in tennis for Andy and Jamie” she stated.
Judy has been an influential example to many women working in all aspects of sport – as professionals, coaches and decision makers – and she campaigns tirelessly to do more. There is still a long way to go. Judy described how female coaches are outnumbered 9-1 by their male counterparts. She believes, however, that Andy’s appointment of Amelie Mauresmo has helped her cause for women. Andy’s subsequent success under Amelie has reinforced that the decision was certainly no gimmick and Judy believes that the French coach has rekindled Andy’s creativity in his play. “Amelie is getting Andy to feel the game again.” Furthermore, she believes that women often make better coaches than their male counterparts “There are some things that women do better than guys in the coaching sense and certainly in the mentoring and teaching sense. I think that egos don’t come into it as much and women are far more open to asking questions.”
“There is still sexism in the sport but there’s a lot of momentum around the whole women in sport issue at the moment. I think Andy’s appointment of Amelie has created awareness and shown that it is not about gender, it’s about the skills that you have and the personality fit” she says.
As sponsors of BTSport Action Woman, we agree with Judy, sport is not about gender. We firmly believe in the importance of encouraging women’s sporting initiatives and will continue to offer our support. Hannah Sharman of Cerno Capital commented, “We have met many extraordinary people through our sponsorship of Action Woman, an awards programme which recognises great sporting achievements. As an Ambassador to Action Woman nominees, Judy is an inspiration, having played and coached tennis at the highest level. Her ongoing commitment to engage young people to pick up a racket and play will be a legacy for future generations.”
Hannah Sharman, James Spence, Judy Murray and Nicholas Hornby