Andy Murray prepares for a shot on the clay of Roland Garros.

Tennis star Andy Murray, after reaching the quarter-finals at this year’s French Open, did something classy that, unfortunately, also points to a glaring bias in the world of tennis: he defended his coach.

Amélie Mauresmo, a former world number one, has been at the top of the women’s game. Since retirement, she has turned from pro player to pro coach and has led Murray from 11th in the world to third in only nine short months. Every time Murray goes down hard in a match, though, Mauresmo always seems to be the one taking the hit.

In a short post on his official website, Murray provides a quote that says the blame has not fallen on him for his recent defeats. Instead, they have fallen on Mauresmo, and he said this is an unfair and sexist part of the tennis world that needs to stop. Speaking about his initial hiring of the coach, he said he expected others to be suspicious, have mistrust, and even be negative. But he didn’t expect prejudice:

“The staggering thing was that she was slated every time I lost, which is something my former coaches never ever experienced. It wasn’t right. I got off to a bad start last season and things have only got better since Amélie arrived,” Murray began.

“They say I was plucky choosing Amélie, but truth be told, if anyone was plucky it was Amélie – she’s the one who’s taken the heat,” he continued. “Her competence was always under fire. I felt embarrassed. That’s why I made a point of repeatedly saying she was doing an excellent job.”

This time around, he’s not just defending her competence; he’s also calling himself a feminist for standing up for equal treatment of women. He said he came to tennis with help from his mother and that he’s always been close with his grandmothers. Now, all Murray’s asking for is for everyone to be more open-minded.

“Whilst a female coach might not gel so well with others, it wouldn’t hurt for everyone to be a little more open-minded,” he concluded.

This isn’t entirely about equal treatment of all people; it has a deeper layer that demands respect for all people. In the tennis world, this means a respect for everyone’s competence as a coach and player. This writer thinks Murray can go even farther and has a chance to make it to the finals of the highlight of the clay court season. For that, I’ll celebrate both his and his coach’s prowess.

Image courtesy of Carine06 via Flickr.