How tennis clubs and venues are becoming LGBTQ+ allies
• 4 MINUTE READ
As National Inclusion Week continues, we focus on Pride, and the work being done to help clubs and venues across Great Britain be more inclusive for those from LGBTQ+ communities.
Just over 18 months ago, we hosted the launch of Pride in Tennis, the LGBTQ+ tennis network for Britain, at the National Tennis Centre, as part of our ongoing mission to open our sport to everyone in Great Britain.
Since then, Pride has been a crucial and visible aspect at our professional tennis events, as we seek to raise awareness of the Pride in Tennis network, and demonstrate to the wide audience who tune in to the grass court season and events such as the Davis Cup that tennis is a safe and inclusive sport for all.
While visibility at the pro events has been an important part of our approach to LGBTQ+ inclusion, there’s been a big push at the grassroots level as well. Throughout 2023, Rally Allies, a programme to help guide clubs and venues become more inclusive, has been taking place, carried out in a joint partnership between Pride in Tennis, the LTA, and LEAP Sports Scotland.
Feedback to the Pride in Tennis network indicated a strong desire from venues across the country to find the best ways they could be welcoming to players from LGBTQ+ communities, but also suggested that many LGBTQ+ players still came across barriers at local clubs.
The Rally Allies programme aims to address both of these areas by:
- Improving awareness of the barriers & inequalities LGBTQ+ people face in the sporting environment for volunteers, coaches and venue workforce.
- Encouraging more tennis venues to take some positive action to be visibly LGBTQ+ inclusive.
- Educating key people at grassroots level so they can allow tennis participants to play as their authentic selves with confidence and without prejudice.
The Rally Allies programme consists of a webinar for representatives of clubs and venues to attend, and upon completion of the webinar, clubs and venues then receive a free resource pack, thanks to help from the LTA Tennis Foundation.
This pack gives clubs and venues the tools both to replicate the Friday Pride Days seen at our grass court events as a showcase of their inclusion efforts, and to create in the longer term a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people at their venue.
One of the clubs to have taken part in the Rally Allies programme is Caerphilly Tennis Club in Wales. Head Coach Jonathan Morgan said that the programme was the ideal next step for the club to take to boost their inclusion efforts.
“The Rally Allies pilot from Pride In Tennis and the LTA was the perfect next step for us as a club, coming at an ideal time as Caerphilly was set to hold its first ever Pride event this summer," he said. "The webinar and event pack were brilliant in giving us knowledge and confidence, plus resources to host our event.
“We hosted an evening of social tennis for our adults combined with conversations around our allyship efforts, the barriers LGBTQ+ players may face and how individuals could be better allies. Everyone said they enjoyed the event and took something away - from understanding more of the challenges the LGBTQ+ community face in sport; feeling more confident to challenge or report offensive language; or just sparking curiosity to find out more about allyship. Some of our current LGBTQ+ players have been very appreciative of our support with this event and our on-going efforts.
“Being a part of Rally Allies has only been of benefit to our club and players, so I would definitely recommend other clubs to get involved!"
National provider We Do Tennis echoed Caerphilly’s positive feedback, stating, “Our coaches had a fantastic and engaging webinar with Pride in Tennis, learning all about the barriers in sport for members of the LGBTOI+ community."
Ian Pearson-Brown, Co-Chair and Founder of the Pride in Tennis network, is optimistic of the impact Rally Allies will have.
"The Rally Allies programmes gives all LTA registered venues the tools needed to make them a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people," he said.
"Providing both the education and the resources required to the grassroots tennis workforce in Britain is crucial in helping to combat the physical and mental health inequalities that still exist for the LGBTQ+ communities. I hope that this groundbreaking programme can help LGBTQ+ tennis players to exist as their authentic selves, with confidence and without prejudice."
The next Rally Allies webinar will be taking place on Wednesday 27 September – you can sign up here.
If you think your club or local venue would be interested in taking part in the programme, you can find a list of all the upcoming webinars by heading to the Pride in Tennis website, where you can also find out more information about local LGBTQ+ tennis groups across the country, and tennis clubs and venues who have already taken part in the Rally Allies programme.