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What the papers say

Andy Murray with the Challenge Cup and Fred Perry
by Clive White
Monday 23 June 2014

While Andy Murray’s place in Wimbledon history was assured the moment he became the first Briton since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the men’s single title last year, the achievement has yet to be commemorated within the grounds of the All England Club.

Matthew Engel, of the Financial Times, had a few suggestions about how the club might honour him, one of which was nicely topical with the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence, even if it was more about a coming together than a going of separate ways. Engel, in his ‘Sporting Life’ column, felt that “the next two weeks will help decide whether he [Murray] ends up as a discreet bronze head next to Virginia Wade (the last British women’s champion, 37 years ago)”, which was probably a little less than discreet after the recent falling out between the two multiple grand slam champions.

Engel continued: “Or as a full-size statue to partner the great Fred Perry. Or have his name on the forthcoming new show court. Or successfully insist that the place changes its name to the All England and Scotland Club.”

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Murray’s own amalgamation with the former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo has been a source of unending debate in the media recently. Opinion is divided on whether a woman, in a coaching capacity, can offer worthwhile advice to a man, even if in Murray’s case, one would suggest, there was already evidence, amply provided by his mother Judy, to suggest that she could.

Nick Bollettieri, the American coach, in his column in The Independent, thought Mauresmo’s appointment would have little or no affect in the short term. “At this stage in his career, a coach is not going to have an effect on his game in just a few weeks. He has got to believe he is a Wimbledon champion. He has got to feel he is capable of repeating what he did last year. Can a coach teach you that? No.”

Bollettieri thought any immediate improvement in Murray’s game had to be of his own making. He wrote: “He needs to improve his second serve – or even better get more first serves in. He should go bold, be a little braver in the second serve even if that costs a few double faults. Don’t be conservative.”

As for Mauresmo – who was certainly quick to make an impact as captain of the France Fed Cup team last year – he felt “we should give her a chance to prove herself. But right now it has to come from within Andy Murray”.

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It’s 10 years since Maria Sharapova shook the tennis world to its foundations when as a 17-year-old she beat the supposedly invincible Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final. Sharapova said she recalled the day only in moments when she needed “a little pick-me-up or when I look back at my achievements”. 

Writing about the mixed fortunes that the Russian has experienced at Wimbledon since then, Christopher Clarey, in the International New York Times, quoted her long-time agent, Max Eisebud, who feared a little for Sharapova when it was eventually time for her to retire, although evidently not in the near future judging by her recent triumph at the French Open.

“I think the competition is a drug for Maria,” said Eisenbud. “And when her career is over, it’s something that will be such a big void for her. At four-all, 30-all in the third in the late rounds of a Grand Slam, it’s like her dream. For most people it’s their nightmare.”

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Marion Bartoli, the reigning Wimbledon champion, however, does not appear to be missing the competition since retiring six weeks after her All England Club triumph last year. It seems that not too many are aware of her retirement and she freely admitted to being asked recently in Wimbledon village: “Do you think it’s going to be hard to defend your title?”

Winning Wimbledon was all that mattered to her last year, after which she was in such a happy mood she even offered to make her peace with John Inverdale, the British television sports presenter, who had insensitively said of the French woman that she was “never going to be a looker”.

As Bartoli told Kevin Mitchell, of The Guardian, she was more concerned about fulfilling a lifelong ambition than any sexist remarks. She told him: “Last year was, for me, all about making my dream a reality. That was all I cared about, having this pure joy inside me. I didn’t reflect at all on his comment, it didn’t affect me. You could have told me David Beckham was waiting outside the room, and I would have said that I didn’t care, just because I had the trophy.”

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