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Judy Murray calls for more financial backing for promising young British tennis players

Judy Murray has called for increased financial help for promising young British tennis players after revealing the sacrifices her family made to support her sons' careers.

She said the family was "skint" in the early days and had to take out a loan to fund Andy's three years at a tennis academy in Barcelona when he was a teenager.

There was no prize money in junior tennis and she said it was hugely expensive travelling the world to play tournaments.

Andy only started earning after turning professional at the age of 18, and was then able to help support his brother Jamie's career on the doubles circuit.

Mrs Murray, speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, said: “Andy won the US juniors in September 2004 and by the end of September 2005 I was watching him playing the final of an ATP tour event in Bangkok against Roger Federer.

"It was like the fastest rise ever. My God, it was fast, we were absolutely skint.

A young Jamie and Andy Murray in 2005

"You have no idea how expensive it is to develop a young tennis player. Once they outgrow their county area, you have to travel.

"Once you try and rise up the world junior rankings by having to play overseas, it is like going on holiday every week but without the fun.

"Its hotels, accommodation, meals, physios etc and there is nothing coming back in because there is no prize money.

"It's an enormous expense and it is why many, many kids and families pull out of it because the costs are just beyond the average family.”

Coincidentally, the rewards available at the highest level in the game were also revealed yesterday when figures emerged showing that Sir Andy has boosted the value of his business empire.

Wiliam Murray (right), posed with ex-wife Judy, son Andy and his wife Kim outside Buckingham Palace in 2013

The latest accounts for his company 77 Management - a reference to him becoming the first British male to win Wimbledon in 77 years - show that it increased its shareholder funds by more than £5 million to just over £22 million in the year to December 2016.

The firm had total assets of £35.4 million and declared retained profits of £5.4 million.

Mrs Murray, who is secretary of 77 Management, told her audience that her sons had worked incredibly hard and had a “very good work ethic”.

She added: “Tennis is a very expensive sport. If my kids had gone into rugby, football or cricket and been signed up by a club, the club would have paid for the kit, the training, the transport, the fixture list etc and as a parent you wouldn't have to do very much, but in an individual sport you are responsible for all your own costs.”

She was at the festival to promote her new book, Knowing The Score.

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