Tennis

‘Maggie’ Amritraj breathes her last

Tennis family: Vijay Amritraj and Ashok Amritraj (right) along with his parents Robert and Margaret Amritraj.  

Margaret Amritraj, popularly known as Maggie and mother of former Indian tennis players Anand, Vijay and Ashok, breathed her last on Saturday morning after a prolonged illness. She was 92 and is survived by her three sons and their families.

A former tennis player herself, Maggie was instrumental in getting her sons into tennis and was a multi-faceted personality.

Speaking to The Hindu, Anand, the oldest of the Amritraj brothers and a former India Davis Cup player and captain, said, “She was the biggest influence in my life, not just in tennis. Couldn’t have asked for a better mother. She has been the most constant figure in my life, even in the last 10 years, when she has not been able to travel. I am sure both my brothers will say the same.

“She was extremely proud of all her sons. It is a huge loss and a huge void in our lives. We always knew she was there. Even if she wasn’t well or she wasn’t speaking well, we knew she was there. Now that’s gone.”

Despite a burn accident in 1964 and a severe injury to her right hand in 1968, Maggie played a key role in guiding her sons even as she ran her own business. Nobody has captured this better than Vijay, India’s most successful singles player, in his autobiography.

Extraordinary

“I find it quite extraordinary that one woman, one mother out of all the millions of mothers in India should have had this driving, obsessive determination to turn all three of her sons into tennis champions,” he wrote.

“How many families with all the right connections, facilities and geographical advantages try — and fail — to get one son or daughter through the gates of the All England Club with a competitor’s pass tied to their lapel? What kind of absurd vision did it take for one woman to believe that she could do it with three? I suppose you have to know my mother to have some idea; even then, knowing her as well as I do, I am not sure I can fully explain it.”

S. Thyagarajan, veteran sports journalist of The Hindu, who saw all this from the ringside, said, “Very few mothers would have sacrificed their entire lives for their sons as Maggie Amritraj did. She would watch all of her sons’ matches, wait for them to end and then take them back home.”

Ahead of her times

The father-son duo of Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan also paid rich tributes.“She was well ahead of her times and was one of the first sports entrepreneurs,” recalled Krishnan. Maggie, in fact, piloted the well-known Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy for close to two decades starting 1985, producing players like the Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman, among others.

The funeral mass is to be held on Tuesday, the 23rd April 2019 (10 a.m.), at St. Teresa’s Church, Mahatma Gandhi Road (Nungambakkam High Road), Chennai.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 7:59:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/maggie-amritraj-breathes-her-last/article26899400.ece

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