Tennis: Judy Murray calls for Fed Cup reform as she quits British captaincy

Murray quit as captain of the Great Britain Fed Cup team on Tuesday.
Murray quit as captain of the Great Britain Fed Cup team on Tuesday.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Judy Murray found some sympathy from tennis chiefs as she called for reform of the Fed Cup after quitting as captain of the Great Britain team on Tuesday.

Murray, the mother of British tennis star Andy Murray, was appointed to skipper the side in the Fed Cup - the leading women's international team tennis tournament - in 2011.

But while Andy and brother Jamie starred as Britain won last year's Davis Cup, the men's equivalent, Judy was unable to have anything like the same impact from off the court, with her side failing to gain promotion to the elite World Group from the Europe/Africa zone.

Last month, Britain won two Fed Cup matches - despite the absence through illness of Australian Open semi-finalist Johanna Konta - but lost to Belgium with a place in the World Group II play-offs at stake.

Afterwards, Judy Murray voiced her frustration with the format of the competition, in particular the lack of home ties and the fact that teams could go a year between fixtures.

Getting out of the competitive Europe/Africa zone in Fed Cup, where Britain have been stuck since the early 1990s, is notoriously difficult.

Although Murray has been able to call upon the likes of Konta, Heather Watson and Laura Robson, they've rarely all been fit at the same time and the former captain said Tuesday it was a "big regret" that the team didn't qualify for the World Group.

She added the structure of the competition as a whole required major changes.

"The Fed Cup format is in desperate need of a revamp. Team competition engages players and fans much more than individual events," Murray said.

"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... Things have got to change."

The fact change might be on the way was signalled by a statement on Tuesday from the International Tennis Federation in response to her resignation.

"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," it read.

"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.

"The ITF board has an upcoming meeting where various reforms will be discussed, some of which may be brought to the ITF Annual General Meeting in June for consideration of approval."

Judy Murray recently became a grandmother for the first time following the birth of Andy's daughter Sophia last month and she said she was quitting her Fed Cup role to spend more time with her family and to concentrate on her programmes promoting grassroots tennis in Britain.