I’m living my life the way I want to now
Tennis coach and mother of tennis players andy and Jamie, Judy murray, 58, shares her memories, passions, fears and habits
says tennis coach Judy murray
what is your earliest memory? walking along a clifftop in scotland, where i grew up, with my mum and one of my brothers; the wind was so strong and i just remember us all laughing our heads off. we were always out and about as a family, walking or swimming.
did you have a career plan B? when i finished university, my first job was as a sales rep for a confectionery company, and i worked my way up to become a national account manager. i gave that up when the boys came along, and it was only when they got a bit older that i decided to rejoin the tennis club i’d been a member of when i was a kid. i started to coach on a voluntary basis – and i haven’t looked back!
Best decision you’ve ever made? Going for the scottish national coach job when it came up in 1994. the boys were still quite young – andy, seven and Jamie, eight – and i didn’t really have the experience to be a national coach,
but i was persuaded to try for it by another woman. and the funny thing is, if i hadn’t gone for that then my life would have taken a completely different turn.
and the worst? turning down the opportunity to go to america on a tennis scholarship when i was 17. it was a very uncommon thing to do back then and i wasn’t brave enough to go for it. who knows how good i might have become!
what is your best quality?
my determination. when you’re working in a male-dominated environment like the tennis world, you need resilience because you come up against obstacles all the time. whenever anyone has told me i can’t do something, i set out to prove them wrong.
and your worst? impatience – i can’t be bothered to wait for anything, whether it’s a bus or queuing in the supermarket.
what is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received? it was from
Frank Dick, who coached the likes of olympic gold medallists Daley thompson and sebastian Coe; he said, “it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have.” i live by that now.
what is your greatest fear? Drowning. i can trace it back to having a swimming teacher at school who would make us dive into the water to retrieve rubber bricks. i could never open my eyes under water, so i could never do it and it’s stayed with me all of my life. even when i drive over bridges, i find myself gripping onto the steering wheel.
what is your guiltiest pleasure? salt and vinegar Kettle Chips – i can get through a large bag on my own.
Your favourite ever fashion item? i was a teenager when the bay City Rollers were at their height, and my favourite thing ever was wearing those high-waisted trousers with the tartan trim, and platform shoes.
how do you relax? i love going out for good food, a glass of wine and a chat
I’m determined to overcome any obstacles
with my girlfriends. i still have the same set of friends i had in my teenage years and i’m really proud of that.
what has been your most
extravagant purchase? my teeth! i was always scared of the dentist, which led to me not looking after my teeth very well, and i got to the stage where i was reluctant to smile properly. i got sick of reading stories about me saying “she never smiles, she’s so serious”, so i made the decision to do something about it. it cost around £30,000 – but it’s one of the best things i ever did. what keeps you awake at night? worrying about my kids. if they’re injured or i know they’re playing a match in another time zone, i struggle to get to sleep. you’d think i’d be used to it by now!
what is your secret skill? i’m actually very good at calligraphy. i taught myself how to do it when i was 15, and ended up getting little jobs writing place cards for weddings and events.
and the one you’d love to master? i’d like to learn how to cook well. when the boys were growing up, i was the queen of ready meals. i’m currently looking into doing a cooking holiday in italy.
what is your pet hate? if i get sat behind somebody who’s sniffing constantly, i can’t stand it. blow your nose!
what is your most treasured
possession? my children’s first teeth. i moved house recently and i was terrified i was going to lose them, so i kept them in my pocket the whole time. the best thing about the age you are? it’s a mixture of confidence and having the means to do the things i want to do. For most of my life, financially, it was a struggle; all of my spare money went into paying for the boys’ tennis commitments. it’s only now in my fifties that i have both the confidence and the means to live my life the way that i want to, which is fantastic.
Judy Murray’s memoir, Knowing the score (Vintage), is out now w&h