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Lisa Belkin

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Crying With Andy Murray's Mum

Posted: 07/09/2012 11:24 am

While the whole world was watching Andy Murray weep on Center Court yesterday, I was watching his mother.

Judy Murray held it together while her son gave his all against Roger Federer in the final match, coming up short in his bid to become the first Englishman to win the men's singles title since 1936.

And she stayed composed as he gave one of the most memorable of thank-you's after his loss.

But when he stopped and embraced his opponent before walking off the court, the camera showed Judy finally giving in and sobbing against the shoulder of a friend.

I will never watch my child play at Wimbledon -- in fact, my days as an athlete's mom pretty much ended with sixth-grade soccer -- but I think I know just how Judy Murray felt.

Yes, the particulars of her tale are different than most. A professional tennis player herself, she was Andy's first coach, and, according to a profile of her in the Telegraph, as soon as both her sons could walk, "she was deliberately developing their co-ordination and movement skills with games around the house. To take one example, she would throw a pair of ropes on the floor and tell them to jump across the gap, making believe that there was a shark-infested sea to cross."

Over the years the British press accused her of being smothering and overprotective of Andy. She still has her share of haters among tennis fans, but recently she's also been portrayed as one very cool mom, tweeting to her 35,000 followers before yesterday's final "It's not every day you get an email from the Prime Minister. Just saying."

Let's not forget Andy's father there in the stands, either. Will Murray, never as visible or vocal as Judy, seems to have spent the morning of the match thinking back.

"I remember bringing him here when he was eight years old and he would walk around trying to get the autographs of the players," he told the Telegraph. "He would get really excited about meeting the tennis stars and that is why today he will always sign the autograph books for the fans."

Take away the details, though -- the 17 million people tuning in, the fact that Kate and Pippa were in the stands, the $900,000 purse for second place -- and the Murrays were every parent yesterday.

Because, at its core, isn't that what parenting is? Starting out as a hands-on coach, then realizing that your job is now to go to the sidelines. You can watch, and cheer, and close your eyes when you can't bear to look, but you can not do it for them. Their court is probably not Wimbledon -- it's the kindergarten playground, or the middle-school lunchroom, or a high-school classroom on the morning of the SATs. And their sport is likely not a sport at all -- instead it's their first night away from home, or their first time on the road as a new driver, or their first romance.

But your role is the same. To look confident and composed, while mentally willing every shot to land clean. And to wait to cry -- or try as best you can to wait -- until they are out of sight.

 

Follow Lisa Belkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisabelkin

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