This year sees the LTA (Britain’s national governing body for tennis) launch it’s first Friday Pride Day at its Grass Courts tournaments leading up to Wimbledon. Sam Grierson reports.
Claire Brown from the LTA hosted the event in Birmingham, which saw attendance from fans, players and organizations interested in helping the LTA increase belonging for LGBTQ communities. Claire, herself a lesbian and someone who works within the sports industry, recognizes the importance of this saying “As someone over 50, I believe that there is a place for everyone to take part in tennis. I have had the pleasure of meeting people in their 90s who still play and at the LTA we want to make sure that tennis is everyone’s game”.
As a part of this event, LGBTQ people gave honest feedback on their experiences of playing tennis or being a fan. What was interesting to hear from the 40+ community, was that their lived experience was not always positive and when asked many felt “fatigued having to come out again and again” or choosing not to congratulate their partner on a win by kissing them across the net. It’s these everyday experiences that the LTA wants to change. They are pledging to continue working through the wider tennis network and learn from their international partners on how to improve engagement and belonging.
As a significant start to this journey the LTA are partnering with the Pride in Tennis Network, who are reaching out to LGBTQ communities to develop stronger networks and opportunities across the UK.