Tennis coach and mother to tennis ace Andy Murray, Judy Murray officially opened the £6.6m Batchwood Sports Centre last night.
Judy praised the work of Mandy Franks and Liz Jones, Batchwood Tennis Academy directors, who have been instrumental behind the reopening of the new leisure centre after a devastating fire in August 2011.
Judy said both women were “great people, great competitors, great tennis players and unbelievable tennis coaches.”
She said: “I don’t think you could find two more committed ladies involved in British tennis. I think you are very very fortunate to have them heading up your programme.
“When Mandy contacted me to tell me about the fire I came over only a few weeks after it had burnt down and I thought it was absolutely amazing how quickly she had put a plan in to place with her team of coaches.
“I think she is a doer, she makes things happen. What you see here today is just a wonderful place for you to work. What a great job she did. “
During a question and answer session in a bid to inspire the next generation of top tennis players, members of the audience were keen to ask Judy about her son and last year’s Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray.
When asked when she realised Andy was a special player, Judy said: “When he was 12 he won the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was a huge draw with around 20 kids “It was then I realised he was the best for his age in the world. In the same year he also managed to win the British under 14 tournament as an under 12.
“He was much smaller but he was very much smarter. He had a really good reading of the game.”
Judy continued: “At the age of 16 I knew he was nearly good enough. He was old enough to know his own mind and this is the age he knew he wanted to try and lead the life of a professional tennis player. “ The tennis ace described a “mixture of severe nausea, sick and heart attack all at the same” she got when she watched Andy play.
She laughed: “It hasn’t got any easier the better he has got. I think it’s got worse because the expectations are higher.
“It is very tough but I think it is the same for every parent. You just want things to be right for your kids, it is normal.
“It is just my kids had to play in front of millions of people in the public eye. “ When quizzed on her saviour to the highs and lows of having a sports star son under the spotlight, Judy quipped “cake and wine.”
On her son winning last year’s Wimbledon, Judy said all she could feel was relieved.
She explained: “I felt relieved more than anything else. Eventually I felt very happy but it was complete relief.
“I knew how much he wanted to win that title and I knew how devastated he was when he lost out to it the year before.
“I knew he felt that he was never really going to be appreciated for the world class player he was until he actually won that title.”
The opening raised more than £2,000 for the sport centre’s Rally for Bally campaign- a campaign that has been set up in memory of the late Elena Baltacha – the former British number one tennis player who died from liver cancer in May, aged just 30.
The Countess of Verulam, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and The Mayor of St Albans, Geoff Harrison, were also at the event to mark the official opening of the centre.
Mayor Harrison said: It was a brilliant day that showed off the wonderful facilities to great effect with lots going on for people to enjoy.
"Judy Murray joined in the tennis, gave out coaching tips and also treated us to a fascinating insight to the game in the question and answer session.
"It was good of Judy to give up her time to open this sports centre which provides a range of amazing facilities for everyone in the community.
Two of the nation’s top sporting organisations: the Lawn Tennis Association and Sport England have contributed a total of £1.1million to the project, which is managed by 1Life on behalf of the district council