British No.1 Andy Murray has said that female tennis players make exactly the same sacrifices and work just as hard as their male counterparts.
In a feature for the BBC, the former World No.1 said that the work ethic driving players to become the best is the same on the men’s and women’s tours - and added that some of his favorite tennis memories have been when playing mixed doubles with Heather Watson and Laura Robson.
“People often underestimate the amount of work that it takes to become a top tennis player,” he wrote, “and that work ethic is the same whether you are a man or a woman.
“There are hours spent in the gym, on court, in physio, travelling, analysing matches and opponents, talking with your team, managing your body, and of course, making plenty of sacrifices.
“Anyone who has spent any time with any of the top women will know that they make those same sacrifices and are as determined and committed to winning as any of the top men on the tour.”
He also praised his former coach Amelie Mauresmo – and pointed out that she faced sexism from other quarters when she was working with him.
“Working with Amelie was, for me, because she was the right person for the job, and not a question of her sex at all. However, it became clear to me that she wasn't always treated the same as men in similar jobs, and so I felt I had to speak out about that.”
He also argued in favour of mixed-gender sport up to adolescence, adding: “Some of the most fun I've had on court has been when playing mixed doubles - with Heather Watson and Laura Robson at both the Hopman Cup in Australia and at the Olympics. Although they probably wouldn't say the same about playing with me!”
Murray has previously been very vocal about the problem of sexism in tennis – with Serena Williams just one of the WTA stars who have thanked him for his willingness to speak out.
This is amazing. Serena was confronted with THAT Andy's answer. "I don't think there is a female athelte who isn't supportive of Murray" pic.twitter.com/oA2HwgZeRk
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) July 14, 2017
Judy Murray, Andy's tennis coach mother, took to Twitter to share her son's feature, adding the words: "Girls must be given the same sporting opportunities, encouragement and investment as boys. Whatever the sport, whatever the circumstance."