The “Russian” mum is getting closer
Yesterday I watched Andy Murray losing the Wimbledon final against Roger Federer and failed to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. The good news is that he is getting closer.
Just entering the final was a big step, which no British man had done for 74 years. However, the truth is that Andy Murray is not as British as you would expect – and that might actually be the reason why he does so well. Apart from having had most of his tennis training in Spain, his mother Judy has always played a vital role in his career. In Britain Judy Murray has been heavily criticised for having pushed Andy too hard. But take a look at the best tennis players in the world, males as well as females, and you’ll find that they almost all have committed, ambitious and pushing parents. You’ll especially see this if you study the Russian female players who’ve dominated the word elite for years. Remove the parents from the equation and there would be no top Russian players left. In many cases I believe that parents are a much more reliable predictor for how good kids will become playing tennis than the kids themselves.
Listen: British players have plenty of indoor courts, the best facilities, some of the best coaches and the certainly the best funding, but they have still not succeeded in producing one single top player apart from Andy Murray. And judged by actions and commitment his mother is more Russian than British.
The common reaction to this statement is that these pushing parents are driven by frustrated ambitions of their own, while we are driven by family values and the love of our children. I’m not so sure that is right. People who sceptically ask parents like Judy Murray the question ‘Who are you really doing this for?’ are often those who go to wine tasting on Tuesdays and yoga classes on Thursdays while their children play tennis matches or practice the violin. They are often the same people who don’t attend their son’s football match on Tuesday evening because it’s too cold dark and rainy. Perhaps these parents are the ones who should be asking the question: ‘Who are you really doing this for?’
What one has to understand is that pushing children in a constructive, helpful way demands time, commitment and persistence. Not bothering is much, much easier. That is reason why Andy Murray’s performance shines brightly in the otherwise starless firmament of British tennis.