Female bosses: Real progress or publicity stunt?

In the week where Rafael Nadal won his ninth French Open title and cemented his status as perhaps the greatest clay court player in recent memory, all talk was about Andy Murray’s appointment

In the week where Rafael Nadal won his ninth French Open title and cemented his status as perhaps the greatest clay court player in recent memory, all talk was about Andy Murray’s appointment of Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his coach.

While it is the first ever significant female appointment by a top ten male tennis player in history, it also gives the impression that perhaps female coaches in the world of tennis are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Murray’s appointment is not the first time French sports have made headlines this year. Earlier in the year, French Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot named Portugal’s Helena Costa as head coach. This made Costa the highest-profile female manager of a European men’s team.

A glass ceiling shattered?

Prior to Costa’s appointment, the highest-profile female coach of a men’s team in Europe was Carolina Morace, who took charge of Italian Serie C1 team Viterbese for two matches in 1999.

Costa’s appointment was definitely deserved as she is more than qualified for the position. Her experience include scouting for Celtic between 2008 and 2011, and also managed Portuguese lower-league men’s team Cheleirense, where she won the Lisbon regional championship in 2006.

Back to Murray’s decision to appoint Mauresmo, it could be the start of a trend as the appointment breaks the glass ceiling and hopefully opens the door for more women coaches to get the opportunity to work with the world’s top male tennis players.

Murray being the first top player to appoint a woman coach is no surprise, he is used to having his mother coach him and his brother. A trend that is uncommon as many great players including Jimmy Connors were coached by their mothers from an early age but they tend to switch to male coaches as soon as they get to the top of the game.

Murray has always had a knack for picking the right coaches at the right time, getting what he needs from them and moving on. Case in point, his relationship with Lendl propelled him to new heights, helping him become a Grand Slam champion. Now that he’s a two time Grand Slam champion, Murray believes that Mauresmo can bring the best out of him in the next stage of his career.

A hidden flaw

Headline making choices aside, what can Mauresmo realistically add to Murray’s game? Yes, she’s a Grand Slam winner but so is Murray. Mauresmo wasn’t exactly the most mentally strong player during her playing days and she had the propensity to choke at crucial moments in matches. Only time will tell whether she’d added value to Murray’s game.

Their stint hasn’t had a good start with Murray getting eliminated from the Stella Artois Champions in the second round. The real test was Wimbledon where Murray started the defence of his Wimbledon title with exceptional tennis but failed to make it past the quarter finals stage.

While Mauresmo is currently still in her job for now, Helena Costa has walked away from hers before the season has even started amid reports of her authority being eroded by the football club who hired players without her consent. No male manager will stand for that so why should she?

Club president Claude Michy said her decision was “astonishing and incomprehensible,” adding: “She’s a woman. They are capable of leading us to believe in certain things.”

His ridiculous statement portrays everything that is wrong with current sporting bodies. They are more than happy to appoint female bosses for a publicity stunt or to meet quotas but fail to utilise their expertise because sexism is still entrenched in the way they operate.

What is the point of appointing women in top positions if they are not allowed to do the job?

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.