Judy Murray: Holding Court *****

Edinburgh Book Festival

Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, Charlotte Square


15th August ONLY


Judy Murray was ‘holding court’ as part of the Book Festival’s This Woman Can series, which celebrates phenomenal women: it was lovely to see Judy, rather than her famous sons, holding centre stage in conversation with Ruth Wishart, self-confessed Murray fan.  Ruth obviously loved reading Judy’s book Knowing the Score: My Family and Our Tennis Story, and relished talking with Judy about herself and about bringing up and encouraging her two talented sons before inviting questions from the audience.


I was an Andy fan long before it became acceptable to like him, but I knew less about Jamie and, indeed, about Judy.  I was fascinated to learn that Judy as well as Jamie was offered tennis scholarships by American universities.  Judy didn’t take hers up because in her day the Atlantic was a very real barrier and sports scholarships weren’t the commonplace thing they are today:  Jamie considered going, but after much thought decided not to.  It was also fascinating to hear of Judy’s jump into the unknown with respect to coaching her sons: there was no coaching provision locally, very few facilities, and no help available – so she went it alone, more or less making it up as she went along, and laying the foundations for the careers of two young men who were both no.1 in the world at the end of last year.  Given that Gordon Reid, another Scot, was wheelchair no.1 at the same time, that he and Andy both won gold medals at the Rio Olympics], and that another Scot, Leon Smith, is captain of the British Davis Cup team who won it in 2015, this is a pretty amazing achievement for a small country with little or no history of success at tennis!


Much of the conversation was about Judy’s efforts to improve the state of coaching and facilities in Scotland, and the obstacles in her way – not least being early opposition to the thought of a young mother of two being as worthy of training as a coach as her male counterparts.  Small wonder that Andy is a strong defender of gender equality, with the example his mum gives!  It’s also no wonder that both Murray boys are so straightforward and grounded, with no hints of pretension or ‘big-headedness,’ and that Andy uses his fame to work for any number of good causes and to contribute to his sport – his mother has been showing him the way all his life.


We even got some tales of Judy’s time on Strictly – but alas, just a couple, as we had run out of time.  It was a fascinating hour, and I could have stayed much longer: I can’t wait to read her book!


Mary Woodward