Murray, who has been captain since taking over from her daughter-in-law’s father, Nigel Sears, in 2011, explained her decision to the LTA.
“I’m stepping down to spend more time with my family and to focus on my grass roots programmes. ‘Tennis on the Road’ is aimed at building a delivery workforce across Scotland in order to grow participation, while ‘Miss Hits’ is a fun starter programme for girls age 5-8 that can be delivered by female coaches and teachers.
“I’ve loved the challenge of leading the team over the past five years, raising the profile of the event, our players and women’s tennis in this country. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the players, support staff and the fans for their commitment to the team over the years.”
The LTA’s Chief Executive, Michael Downey, said:
“British Tennis and our players have been fortunate in having a captain of Judy’s unique tennis knowledge, passion for the game, and sense of fun steering our Fed Cup campaign for the last five years.
“No doubt she has left an indelible mark on all the players she has worked with on the team, the support staff and inspiring other GB female coaches along that journey. On behalf of British Tennis, I would also like to personally thank Judy for her commitment.”
Murray took the opportunity of her resignation to comment more widely on the Fed Cup competition.
“It’s a big regret for me that we didn’t make it to the World Group, but what we have now is a pool of players capable of competing at that level. We just need them all to be available and fit to play at the same time.”
GB’s current top player, No26 Johanna Konta, was forced to pull out of the Zone Group 1 campaign in February due to illness a week after she made the semis of the Australian Open. The team beat South Africa and Georgia in the round-robin phase but lost to Belgium in the promotional play-off—the same scenario as in 2015.
“The Fed Cup format is in desperate need of a revamp… It’s crucial we use this global competition as a means of attracting and retaining girls in competitive tennis at every level. That requires more countries to have the opportunity of playing home and away ties so we can showcase our sport.
“The GB team has been stuck in the 16-team Euro-Africa Zone for an eternity. We play four countries in four successive days in February and only two teams qualify for a playoff opportunity to progress to the World Group. If you don’t make the play off, there’s nothing until the following February, making it impossible to build any momentum on or off the court.”
The Euro-Africa Zone, which also includes Russia, is by far the strongest in the competition, and currently includes all eight of the World Group.
There was, though, an encouraging response from the ITF:
“Murray has been a dedicated captain for Great Britain and we are sorry to see her step down. Her energy and commitment to her team were very much in the spirit of Fed Cup and she will be missed.
“Like many captains and nations, Judy would like to see the Fed Cup format changed to a 16-team World Group which would allow more movement of teams from Zonal Groups into the World Group. This is a view shared by ITF President David Haggerty who, with the board, is looking at reforms to Fed Cup as well as Davis Cup.”
Murray will, no doubt, watch developments with great interest from the sidelines. However, aside from her work with young players throughout the country, she also has new priorities, as she revealed in an interview for ‘Hello’ magazine just before the birth of her first grandchild to Andy and Kim Murray.
“I’m really looking forward to the new baby, my first grandchild. When it happens, I shall be an active granny. My mum Shirley was very involved with Jamie and Andy when they were growing up and I hope to be the same with my grandchild.
Now age 56, Murray added:
“As you get older, you realise that life is short and so I’ve decided that it’s time for me to slow down. I’ve been away so much that I’ve missed out on family occasions and children, such as my 13-year-old nieces Elsa and Cora growing up, and I’m actually looking forward to cutting back on my work and spending more time with my parents—and yes, the new baby.”
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