Watching your children play sport is so emotional

Famous tennis mum Judy Murray reveals what every parent of a sporting child goes through as they stand helplessly on the sidelines. It is just as bad when you have to watch them on television, she says in this exclusive column for The Mixed Zone. As Andy and Jamie prepare for next week’s US Open, Judy will be pushing to build a permanent legacy in their hometown of Dunblane

You know what I’m like. I can’t bear to watch Andy and Jamie on television when they’re playing big matches. I just get too nervous. But the Olympic tennis final between Andy and Juan Martin Del Potro was such a big thing that I thought: “I’m going to have to try.” If it became too tense, of it wasn’t going well, I’d go and clean the bathroom.

I was watching by myself at home. It’s the best way for me to be if I’m not actually there. I’m so edgy I don’t want to speak to anyone, and I certainly don’t want to hear anyone else’s opinion. So there I was, on the sofa, on my own, shouting at the television – with the sound off. Yes, I muted the television after three games. I really didn’t want to hear the commentary.

I’m guessing a huge number of friends and relations of our brilliant Olympians were doing the same thing. I’ve always said watching your children play top-level sport provokes severe nausea and a heart attack at the same time. I’ve been suffering for so many years now that I’m surprised I’m still alive. Every match, every race, every competition is going to end with ecstasy for some, disappointment for others. You have to learn how to handle both.

That’s why I thought the end of Andy’s final was so moving when he and Juan Martin met at the net for a hug. It was a final worthy of the Olympics. It had everything. A great battle full of emotion and physicality. They go back a long way, those two. I remember them playing each other in the first round of the 2004 US Open Juniors. So while Andy loved the battle and was thrilled to win, he was also sensitive to how Juan Martin must have been feeling. More often than not the winner does all the celebrating – and gets all of the attention – while the loser is just left.

Nothing really made me cry during the Games. But I did get a little teary at the Opening Ceremony, seeing Andy carry the flag for Team GB, with his brother following behind him with the other athletes. That was after he almost poked Princess Anne’s eye out with it, of course. Someone should have given him a crash course in flag-handling.

He was so pumped to be asked to lead the team. It was such a huge, huge honour. He got the call quite late at night, just as he was getting into bed, so it didn’t surprise me when he announced to the world that he received the news in his pants. It was perhaps just a little too much information, but he said it as it was and it made me laugh.

He and Jamie both love the whole team thing. They have since they were little boys playing for their primary school and the local club. That sense of belonging and a sense of duty.  I think that’s why the Olympics – and the Davis Cup – feel inherently different to them. On the bus back from the Opening Ceremony Andy sat next to Justin Rose, just chatting about the trials and tribulations of their sports and listening to each other’s experiences. They’re household names, global superstars, yet on that bus they were just members of the same team going into their competitions with the same hopes and fears as everyone else.

It’s been a great year for ‘Team Murray’. From Jamie winning the Australian doubles with Bruno Soares, getting to No1 in the world rankings and helping GB win their latest Davis Cup tie to Andy reaching the final in Melbourne, having his best clay-court season, making the final in France, winning Wimbledon and now retaining his Olympic title.

He’s always been pretty laidback – off the court. But obviously he’s matured over the years, and now he has his daughter Sophia to come home to, he’s almost horizontal. During tournaments when she’s there – like Queen’s and Wimbledon – his goal is to get back by bath-time. Chilling. At home with your baby and the dogs is a great way to switch off from the pressures and demands of professional sport.  They don’t care if you’ve won or lost and they’ve no idea what you do or who you are – they love you anyway.
The boys have gone on to the US Open now – in fact, Andy had to pack up and leave Rio a few hours after his win and fly to Cincinatti for an ATP Masters event. No time to celebrate his success, which was a real shame. The tennis schedule is very unforgiving.

I’m not going this year. I’m on an important mission to give evidence to the inquiry that will decide the outcome of our application to build a multi-sport and activity complex near our hometown in Dunblane. I’m determined to create a tennis legacy for what Jamie and Andy have achieved. And it’s no good waiting until they retire. We need facilities and activity and we have to do something positive now.

The Olympians have done their bit to inspire us all. But history has proved that it’s access to affordable facilities and engaging coaches in schools and the community that will lead to more sporting success in the future.


This article was written by Judy Murray Judy’s latest articles

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