London:Andy Murray announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Kim Sears on Wednesday while also dispensing with two members of his backroom staff in Dani Vallverdu and Jez Green.
The 2013 Wimbledon champion, who was originally coached by his mother, Judy, has retained Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo, herself a former Grand Slam winner, as his head coach, while his engagement to Sears follows their nine years as a couple.
British tennis player Andy Murray (L) and his fiancee Kim Sears.
But two of the men who have played such a big part in Murray's professional life will no longer be involved after he parted company with friend and hitting partner Vallverdu and fitness coach Green. Murray's management company, who also announced his engagement, said the coaching split was "mutual", with the 27-year-old Scot adding:
"We sat down at the end of the season and decided that a change would be best for all of us. "My off-season training and Australian Open preparations have already begun and I am very excited for the new year. "I thank Jez and Dani for all their hard work over the years and wish them the best for the future." Murray and Vallverdu met at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Spain as promising young players more than a decade ago, with the Venezuelan becoming a key member of the British player's entourage.
Both Green and Vallverdu were said to be unhappy when Murray decided to appoint Mauresmo as his main coach in succession to Ivan Lendl in June, although the issue was reported to be a lack of consultation rather than consternation at their boss's decision, unusual for a top male player, to have a woman as his head coach.
Murray has made significant changes to his coaching staff throughout his career, splitting with Brad Gilbert at the age of 20 despite Britain's governing Lawn Tennis Association paying the American a hefty fee primarily just to coach him. His decision to hire a former champion in Lendl in 2012 sparked similar moves from Roger Federer, who brought Stefan Edberg into his camp, and Novak Djokovic, who recruited Boris Becker to his team. But with Lendl seemingly reluctant to spend as much time on the road as Murray wanted, their partnership came to an end when the Scot was struggling for form following back surgery.
The end of that partnership in March came from Lendl and was a painful blow for Murray at a time when he was still trying to recover form, fitness and confidence following back surgery. Murray, the 2012 US Open and London Olympic Games champion, flew to Manila on Wednesday to play in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League and will travel to Miami next week. He is due to begin his 2015 season with an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi on January 1.
The 26-year-old Sears has become a familiar, and much photographed, figure in her own right while watching Murray courtside at events all around the world. She too grew up in a tennis-loving home with father Nigel Sears formerly the LTA's head of women's tennis. Kim Sears was once described by Judy Murray as "the best thing to happen to Andy".
But he reportedly upset her when in January this year he sent a 'joke' message to a fan saying: "We are getting married just after Wimbledon, should be a great day," only to have to issue a retraction in a follow-up tweet.