For long, Andy Murray has spoken about sexism that exists in the tennis world and stood up to it. The Scot is happy that a lot of athletes, this year, have used their platform to talk about issues close to their heart rather than stick to sport.
“It’s great to see people passionate about certain causes,” Andy Murray wrote in a column for BBC.
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“Muhammad Ali was one of my heroes growing up. I loved the way he embraced issues outside of sport and wasn’t afraid to shy away from what he believed in.
“Sometimes these contributions can be more important than what an athlete achieves in his or her sport.”
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US Open champion Naomi Osaka made a huge impact by speaking up about racism and police violence against African-Americans in the USA. F1 champion Lewis Hamilton lent weight to the BLM movement. While Manchester United star Marcus Rashford started a drive to provide mid-day meals to kids during the lockdown.
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) May 14, 2020
“Although athletes like Marcus and Naomi are getting the praise they deserve, you still see some people replying to their posts on social media telling them to ‘stick to sport,’” he wrote.
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“That’s unfair. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion.
“Not everyone will agree with what you say, but it shouldn’t stop anyone from having a voice, so long as it isn’t harming or causing pain to anyone else.”
Murray, one of the more thoughtful athletes, saw the sexism that existed in tennis first hand when he hired multiple Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014. It was unheard of an elite men’s player to hire a female coach; it still is.
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The Scot was ridiculed by fellow players as well as experts over the decision. And every time he lost Mauresmo’s presence in the box became a major issue.
“I’ve used my platform to speak out during my career, particularly on gender equality. That is something I will continue to do,” the 33-year-old wrote.
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“In some ways it’s seen as radical. I feel it’s the complete opposite. I think it’s a fair thing that everyone gets treated the same, regardless of their skin colour, their gender, whatever. It seems very basic to me.
“I experienced sexism in sport when I worked with Amelie Mauresmo and that was when it first came to my attention. Then I noticed it a lot more because maybe I’m looking out for it. Maybe it is not extremely overt, but it is there.
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“It’s something I would like to see continue to change. Some people think it just needs time, but why should we wait?
“A lot of this stuff you could change immediately if the people in decision-making positions wanted to. A lot of people seem reluctant to make change straight away and want to make it a gradual process.
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“This year has shown that more athletes among the younger generation will not accept that and will not simply ‘stick to sport’, either.” Like it or not.