In the lead up to Wimbledon, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association – the national governing body for tennis in Britain) launched its “Friday Pride Days” this year at its grass courts tournaments. Who would have thought that as you walked passed centre court at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham at 10:30am on a sunny June morning that you would hear Abba’s Dancing Queen blasting out as fans, volunteers and the ball crew arrive in garlands, bandanas and rainbow laces.
This was only the start of the “Friday Pride Days” celebration to increase visibility of LGBTQ communities within tennis. The coverage of the event included stories from players and fans about their experiences and why it was important to ensure that the LTA make tennis everyone’s game.
Before play started the LTA’s Director of People Vicky Williams, joined with Eira Guest from Pride in Tennis who have partnered with the LTA and myself to talk about why “Friday Pride Day” was so important to tennis. Vicky Williams said “We are working at the LTA to make sure it is truly welcoming and inclusive for our fans, players, coaches, volunteers and our officials. Everyone is a part of this day”. Throughout the event each of the coin tosses was performed by a member of the LGBTQ community. It was an immense honour to talk about my own experience of watching Martina Navratilova playing tennis when I was a young and not yet out lesbian, thrilled to see her perform and it gave me hope that I also, would be accepted one day.
The feeling on the day was of a carnival, a jubilant event that celebrated difference and acceptance, it was great to be involved and we watch with interest as the LTA continues on its journey to promote “Tennis for everyone”.
To get in touch and be involved go to www.prideintennis.org.uk
Email on email@example.com.