sports

"It's not about being a woman or a man." Australian Open finalist's powerful message about equality.

As Frenchman Lucas Pouille spoke following his Australian Open quarter-final win over Milos Raonic, the crowd roared.

Pouille had just praised his new coach, two-time grand slam champion Amélie Mauresmo, in turn delivering an important message about equality in sport.

“She has the right state of mind, she knows everything about tennis,” he told John McEnroe in his post-match interview.

“She’s a champion; she’s a great, great coach.

“Men are coaching women, so why not the contrary? It’s not about being a woman or a man, it doesn’t matter – you just have to know what you’re doing – and she does.”

Amélie Mauresmo
Amelie Mauresmo celebrates after Pouille beat Canada's Milos Raonic in their men's singles quarter-final match. Image: Getty.
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With this, the capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena cheered.

While his sentiment is undoubtedly true, it's rarely seen at the top level of sport.

Currently, 24-year-old Pouille is the only male tennis player in the top 100 to have a female coach outside his immediate family.

And it's working for him.

Before working with Mauresmo, Pouille had lost every Australian Open game he'd ever played.

He won just five grand slam matches in 2018, saying he "lost that joy of being on the court".

He credited Mauresmo, who won the women's singles at the Australian Open in 2006, with helping him regain his love of sport.

Mauresmo previously coached Andy Murray from 2014-2016 and during that time saw Murray to the Aus Open final, French Open and Wimbledon semi-finals and his first ever titles on clay, including his first ever clay court victory over Rafael Nadal.

At the time, Murray's decision to hire a female coach attracted a lot of controversy. Mauresmo was ruthlessly criticised; many blamed her for any match Murray happened to lose. Murray noted that never took place when he had a male coach.

Though that was just a few years ago, Pouille has not faced that same phenomenon.

"I think times changed. It’s a shame that it happened," he said.

Pouille will face world number one Novak Djokovic in a semi-final on Friday.

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