The racket sports of pickleball, padel, and tennis each offer their own unique benefits, yet also face competition from one another. Judy Murray, former professional tennis player and mother of tennis star Andy Murray, has firsthand experience with pickleball.
She provides perspective on both the opportunities pickleball presents as an accessible entry sport, as well as the challenges it poses to the more established game of lawn tennis. While seeing value in what pickleball can add, Murray still recognizes tennis as holding an unrivaled place as a beloved global sport. This article summarizes Murray’s takeaways from playing pickleball and considers how all three sports might coexist.
Pickleball as Opportunity, Not Threat
Judy Murray, tennis star Andy Murray’s mother, has had a positive experience with the sport of pickleball. She sees it not as a threat to tennis, but rather as an opportunity.
Easier to Learn Than Tennis
Pickleball is much easier to learn than tennis. It is played on a smaller court with paddles and a plastic ball, so it has an immediate fun feel rather than seeming like a serious sport at first. The smaller court size also means the ball is almost always within reach.
Accessible Sport for All Ages
In the United States, pickleball is the fastest growing sport with around 5 million players. Judy Murray sees it as a fun, accessible activity for people of all ages, from kids to seniors. It can be a way for older tennis players to keep playing racket sports as well.
Transfers Skills From Tennis
For lifelong tennis players, pickleball allows them to transfer their skills to a new sport that is easier on their bodies physically. The smaller court size makes continuous play more sustainable.
More Sociable, Communication-Building Elements
Pickleball is predominantly doubles, so partners play very close together. Judy Murray notes the increased communication and friendliness this encourages. It can help junior players build camaraderie and tactics.
Embraced, Not Replaced, by Tennis
While some view pickleball as competing with tennis, Judy Murray believes the two sports can embrace and help each other. Pickleball can be an easy entry point to get people playing racket sports and interested in tennis.
Limitations Compared to Tennis
However, pickleball has not achieved and cannot match the prestige, allure and value of tennis as a global spectator sport. So while it offers benefits, it does not truly substitute for lawn tennis.