Sports Personality of the Year should be split into men and women, says Judy Murray as only male athletes have won in the last decade

Sports Personality of The Year should be split into separate categories for men and women, Judy Murray has said, as no woman has won the prize in the last decade.

The last female winner was Zara Tindall, the Queen’s grandmother, who scooped it for her equestrian achievements in 2006. Just 13 women have won the BBC award since 1954, and this is the longest time a woman has not won for since the show began.

Ms Murray’s son, tennis star Andy, has won the prize more times than women have in the last 20 years.

The process for choosing the winner was changed in 2018, with a longer shortlist drawn up in the hope to give a chance to more diverse sportspeople. The shortlist also was not released in advance for the first time, in order to stop fan campaigns before the evening.

Last year’s awards ceremony drew criticism after they decided to showcase women’s football by putting on a dance display by women in football shirts. Many pointed out at the time that women should be recognised with awards, rather than dances.

Judy Murray told the Mail on Sunday that she "would like the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year to be broken down into male and female categories, in order to create a more even playing field."

Female sports professionals agree. Liz Young, English Ladies European Tour Professional, told The Telegraph that women will have to "create their own prize" as it is unlikely they will win the general award.

She said: "Unfortunately, if a woman wants to win BBC Sports Personality of the year, they will want to create their own prize. I can’t see how a woman is going to win Sports Personality of the Year.

"Georgia Hall won the Open in 2018, that was a phenomenal achievement and she didn’t even make the shortlist. You just feel is it that they are not seen on television as much, so because they don’t get as much publicity – the general public don’t vote for them because of who they are and what they achieved. Until that changes, I would agree with Judy that the women need their own Sports Personality of the Year award because they need that recognition."

The golf champion added that if in the future, women’s sport becomes more prominent, female winners of SPOTY would be more likely.

She explained: "If you can have a woman standing up with one of the trophies, people can see it and with it being on the BBC, which has the biggest viewership. You need girls to say ‘I want to be Charley Hull [top English golfer] or Georgia Hall’ and not ‘I want to be Tiger Woods’.

"If you as a female athlete are playing to much smaller amounts of viewers and then men are playing to millions, then who are the public going to choose?"

Judy Murray has more ideas about how to help women in sport. To help female athletes feel more comfortable, there should be plug sockets for hair straighteners in changing rooms, she added.

The tennis coach explained: "We need far more plug sockets in changing rooms so girls know they can dry or straighten their hair after training. I’ve always worn my hair short because it was easier to manage; but the world has changed, social media has made even young girls a lot more conscious of their appearance and we have to adapt."

She said her son has been working to push for equality, adding: "Andy in particular has always been good at speaking out for women. He was also the first top male player to take on a female coach and he speaks up consistently about equality, which has a really big impact, ironically because he’s a man.

"This isn’t just about women; the importance of male advocacy to effect change is huge."

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