THREE years have passed since Judy Murray stepped down as captain of the Great Britain Fed Cup team. While her decision was part motivated by a desire to spend more time with her new grandkids, nothing in the intervening period has altered the feeling she also had back then that her formidable energies on behalf of the sport were better invested elsewhere.

Maybe it would have been different had her GB side had landed a home tie in either of the World Group play-offs under Murray’s tenure - against first Sweden then Argentina - something her successor Anne Keothavong has the benefit of at London’s Copper Box Arena this weekend against Kazakhstan. But the frustrations of the role persist. For all the progress made by players – some blooded by Murray - such as Katie Swan, Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart, Keothavong could still do with greater strength and depth, not to mention developing some genuine doubles specialists, to survive in the World Group if they get there.

Moreover, with the men’s version of this sport benefitting from multi-million pound investment and a bright, shiny new format later in the year, once again the Fed Cup seems antiquated and under-appreciated by comparison. After the razzmatazz of watching her sons play to packed houses in the Davis Cup, Judy still shudders at the thought of her first Fed Cup tie in charge, out in Eilat, Israel, in 2011.

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“Kazakhstan have a top 30 played in Yulia Putintseva so it will be a tricky tie but home advantage is a big thing,” said Murray.. “The crowd can get behind them and the victories they managed to pull out in Bath in difficult circumstances suggests they can do the same thing again.

“Having seen the Davis Cup matches with the boys, all the excitement and the atmosphere, I remember going to my first Fed Cup tie in Israel and there was one man and his dog watching,” she added. “It was like playing a club match and I thought ‘why is it so different?’ ‘They are both run by the ITF, so why are the formats completely different and why are the women so far behind the men?

“Now here we are, all these years later, and the men have got a brand new format and the women haven’t. Why are we always behind? For me it relates to not enough women in decision making positions at the top of the sport - because men will often think on behalf of the men first.”

Starting off with a team featuring the late Elena Baltacha, it was Murray’s blessing and curse to rely on the services of Jo Konta, who subsequently withdrew them after a gruelling run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Swan, handed her debut in her place, is included alongside Konta this weekend, alongside Boulter, Swan and Heather Watson. “I think I did a good job of raising the profile during my time,” she said. “We had been in this obscure zone for such a long time that no-one even knew what Fed Cup was. But it just always felt to me that I could have a much longer-term effect on the women’s side of the game if I went back to grass roots, concentrating on getting more women playing, competing.”

That meant her She Rallies and Miss-Hits programmes. “We need to invest in girls at the age seven and eight and we need big groups of them because they will stay in something if their friends are doing it,” she said. “We also need female coaches who know how to create the environment in which female players can thrive.”

**Judy Murray is an ambassador for the tennis camps at The Campus, Quinta Do Lago, Portugal