Lucas Pouille, who has made it quite far in this year’s Australian Open, has something that few else do: a female coach. Pouille has been vocal about his faith in his coach, Amelie Mauresmo, and how she has been instrumental in his success.
This new mindset has enabled Pouille to take a lot of pressure off himself.
While Pouille may not be focused on winning, he’s sure doing a good job of it. He was only the 28th seed but has made it deep into the tournament. On Friday he became the first Frenchmen to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did so in 2010.
French players have not had much success in recent years. The last Frenchmen to win a major tournament was in 1983, when Yannick Noah won the French Open.
Seeing Pouille’s success, people are wondering whether having a female coach might be an advantage. According to Pouille, it doesn’t matter whether your coach is male or female. Mauresmo knows tennis and has the right attitude to coach a player from mediocrity to a higher level.
Mauresmo is a former number one player and won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. In 2014, she began working with tennis star, Andy Murray. Some were confused about Murray’s decision to work with a female coach. But of course Murray backed her up and just like Pouille, pointed to her knowledge of the game and success as a player herself, as proof that she was the real deal.
Murray was outspoken about working with Mauresmo and the good relationship they enjoyed. Sexism is prevalent in any sport and tennis is no different. Many male players thought it impossible to work with a female coach. But Murray, one of the best in the world, working with Mauresmo and speaking out against sexism in tennis has changed some minds.
Mauresmo acknowledges how Murray has helped people see that women can coach, and paved the way for her to work with other players like Pouille. And it can’t be discounted that she’s made a big difference in his game.
Mauresmo could be the catalyst for other players hiring female coaches. A few other male players have female coaches but they tend to be family members. Even in women’s tennis, most coaches are men. The idea that women can’t coach seems to be deeply instilled in the tennis world. This of course, is true in other sports as well.
But Mauresmo’s success with Pouille may be able to change that, especially with his performance at the Australian Open. There is a movement across many sports to give equal opportunities to women. Perhaps it makes some sense that in sports like football and baseball, in which women are excluded, there would not be female coaches. And perhaps not.
But certainly, in sports such as tennis and basketball, that are played by women, there should be female coaches. It doesn’t make sense that there would be men coaching women but not vice versa.
It’s exciting to see this change across many different sports. The more success Pouille has with Mauresmo, the better it is for female coaches in general. In 20 or 30 years there could be a lot more gender equality across the sporting world.