It is 9am on Sunday and Judy Murray is steaming her clothes. It’s impressive multi-tasking and the first time, to my knowledge, anyone has continued with their household chores during an interview with The Telegraph.
She’s FaceTiming from the rural Perthshire house she moved to three years ago. (She and William Murray divorced in 2005 when their sons Jamie and Andy were 10 and nine). She loves the peace – and the fact she can get to England to see her four grandchildren relatively easily. From what I can see on the ground floor, its interiors are white and unfussy, like the white t-shirt, slim-legged jeans and trainers she’s wearing.
This is Judy off duty. But this week we’ll see her in Wimbledon mode, which over the years she’s honed to an art. Even her hair is creamier than it used to be (maybe it’s been influenced by the decor). She calls herself a White Hot Blonde.
For someone who says she never used to give any thought to her clothes, she reels off her favourite labels with the specificity of a seasoned fashionista. Paige denim jeans, Superga - always. She has Lululemon’s Define jacket in eight colours. “It’s so comfortable and gives a really good shape”.
She hates heels. Her idea of breaking into formal footwear is pale pink or blue trainers. When heels are unavoidable, she heads to Russell & Bromley. She likes Patrizia Pepe, Rails, Pinko, Me & Em, a boutique in Glasgow called Pampas which knows what she likes and lets her know when new styles drop, and Perserico, which she discovered recently on a mini-break to Venice. Her T-shirts are by ATM, “They’re a loose weave so you don’t get a single block of white, which is more flattering,” she says. God is in the details. “And they have the right length sleeves.”
Ever since she saw some slow motion footage of herself at Wimbledon, with her arms clapping above her head, she’s been punctilious about sleeves. “I was in a sleeveless vest and everything looked as though it was wobbling. Never again.”
Planning is part of her DNA. She has known for weeks what she’ll wear in the Royal Box on the 7th July. “You have to make an effort. It’s such a privilege to be there. They entertain you with gorgeous food and you meet such interesting people.” Including the Royals. She’s met most of them, including the Queen, and played tennis with Kate at a school in Edinburgh where Judy was coaching. The Duchess of Cambridge was very interested in the techniques Judy was promoting to make tennis fun to children. “I think George was about four at the time and she was keen for him to learn”.
At 62, Murray looks more youthful than she did five years ago. She puts that down to the TRR Nutrition Liquid Collagen she takes daily (“It helps hair and nails as well”) and the much-publicised “neck lift” she had in 2020.
“My sons were starting to tease me about my wrinkles,” she says. The media called it a face lift, but really it was three sessions of a deep radio frequency treatment called Morpheus8 that stimulates the body’s own production of elastane and collagen to tighten the skin - at a total cost of around £4500.
"I do sometimes think the younger me would be amazed at what I spend on myself, but it's helped my confidence. The Morpheus made a big difference in terms of firmness and brightness,” she says. It sounds as though she treats herself more kindly than she used to, slapping on the Obagi SPF (she uses their skincare too), investing in clothes and discovering the power of a trouser suit. “You get to know when the cameras are on you. You can’t see them but you can feel them,“ she says.
For years, the rather stern-faced Judy presided courtside at Wimbledon willing on her sons Jamie, now 36 and seven-times Grand Slam doubles champion, and Andy, as they slogged their way up the league board. Sometimes she’d be there, in emotional limbo, for five hours at a stretch. She wishes she could have enjoyed Andy’s first Wimbledon win more. She cried. “That was from all the accumulated stress. The year before when he lost the final he was devastated. And then your organisational reflexes kick in and it was just: how are we all going to get to the players’ area?”
In real life – or rather on FaceTime – she’s thoughtful rather than stern, unpretentious and softly spoken. I’m not surprised she's the same size 10 she was in her 20s – she never sits down. Cue more clouds of steam from the iron.
Sun cream? Not much in the early years. Nor sunglasses – she wanted the boys to be able to make eye contact with her if they ever looked in her direction. All that squinting probably made her look more severe than she is.
Judy Erskine was a Scottish international tennis player and winner of 64 titles. This despite there being no indoor courts in Scotland. In winter she had to play badminton. Hence her determination, five decades later, to open an indoor tennis centre. When her boys were little, she was instrumental in creating what she calls “an army of mums” to help teach and encourage tennis in schools. She’s passionate about promoting women’s tennis. “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” she says. Her conversation is peppered with similar observations, but maybe because of her earnestness and niceness, they don’t come across as glib or grating.
She is matter of fact rather than resentful about the scrutiny to which women are subjected in the public eye. She wasn’t ruffled to find herself one of only two women among 20 students on the coaching performance course she took as soon as her boys were old enough for her to leave them for a few hours. She was the first woman to pass.
Just last week, in a podcast interview with Emma Barnett, her son Andy recalled how angry he was when he learned, via an article Judy wrote, that a man had groped her before she was due to deliver a talk on stage. Judy however, doesn’t want to talk about it. She’s moved on.
After our interview she’s off to run a tennis clinic, followed by afternoon tea at Cromlix, her son Andy’s hotel near Glasgow. After Wimbledon fortnight she’ll return to Scotland, to work on the multi sports centre she's opening in Dunblane. Then it’s time to crack on with the novel she’s writing. It’s set in the tennis world. She’s enviably unperturbed by the process. “I studied English at university, so when the chance to write fiction came up I thought, I can do that”.
Will it be a thinly veiled roman à clef? Probably not. But she says it will be an eye-opening peek into an often hidden world “a bit like King Richard” (the Will Smith film about Richard Williams, father and coach of Serena and Venus).
“I’m on a mission,” she says. “I’ve still got plenty of energy, and so many opportunities I never foresaw. Sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone.”