Navratilova hails Mauresmo's coaching breakthrough

Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:08pm EDT
 
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By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Men's tennis will see a flurry of women coaches after Andy Murray broke down a gender barrier by hiring Amelie Mauresmo, says 18-times grand slam singles champion Martina Navratilova who is open to tutoring men.

Briton Murray raised eyebrows with the appointment of former world number one Mauresmo in June but Czech-born American great Navratilova said gender should not be an issue when a player, male or female, selects a new trainer to work with.

"When I looked for a coach gender never entered into it. I never thought I need a male coach or a female coach, it never occurred to me," the 57-year-old told a small group of reporters in Singapore on Friday.

"In fact my first coach was a transgender, Renee Richards. It doesn't matter, the ball doesn't know if you are male or female, the strategy is the same. I know I could coach a man and I know there are plenty of women who could coach a man."

The Mauresmo-Murray partnership is not the first of its kind with Billie Jean King previously tutoring American compatriot Tim Mayotte, while Marat Safin, Murray and Denis Istomin have all been coached by their mothers.

But Murray, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon title, is certainly the most high profile male tennis player to opt for a woman coach.

"If a guy like Murray doesn't care why should anybody else care? It widens the field and widens the possibilities," said Navratilova, the winner of 167 singles and 177 doubles titles on tour.

"I'm sure for some guys it hadn't occurred to them to hire a women and its a case in all the sports. We don't questions men's coaches coaching women's teams but we question women coaching men's teams, why is that?   Continued...

 
Former tennis player Martina Navratilova (L top) watches the women's singles final match between Sara Errani of Italy and Maria Sharapova of Russia during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 9, 2012.               REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes