Humans of the Court: Claire's Story
• 3 MINUTE READ
Humans of the Court is a content series on Instagram from the LTA, bringing you real life stories from those who make tennis in Britain what it is.
Whether they be players, coaches or volunteers, young or old, beginners picking a racket for the first time or life-long veterans, the series will showcase those involved in tennis in communities across the country and shine a spotlight on the many faces of the sport. Follow the LTA and the #HumansOfTheCourt hashtag on Instagram to uncover more stories!
For Claire Walford tennis has not only helped to improve her fitness, but it’s also played a key role in helping her to improve her mental health.
The mum-of-three went eight years without exercise before she discovered Elly Shearman’s classes for mothers and their children at King’s Tennis Club in Bristol, and she has credited the sessions with helping her both mentally and physically.
“I saw Elly’s Monday Morning Mum and Tots class, and I thought ‘wow this is a way I can play tennis during the day,’” she said.
“It’s very hard to get exercise in when you’re a mum, I’d basically had eight years of not having any exercise and then suddenly there was a solution.
“I actually think my mental health was quite low then it’s just gradually climbed up and I do link my coming to tennis as a key factor of coping better. I’m a rusty intermediate and it was fun, I improved, made loads of friends, we just had a laugh.”
Claire started off by attending the weekly Monday morning sessions for new mothers – helping them improve their games, take some time out to exercise and meet other women in their position – and now plays multiple times a week with her children.
Funding for the sessions come from the LTA’s Open Court programme, which forms part of the governing body’s work to open up tennis to new audiences and provide opportunities to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.
With the United Kingdom going into a nation-wide lockdown earlier this year Claire had time to reflect on how important a part of her life, and her children’s lives, tennis has become.
“For the first week of lockdown you were still allowed to play, so we were down here every day,” she said.
“When the government made it stricter our whole family was sad and we even wrote petitioning emails to the club asking if there was a way we could play.
“When they announced that you were allowed to play golf and tennis we were down here immediately, and we’ve been here four to five days a week ever since. It’s what’s made lockdown bearable.
“It’s been quite a big turning point this year for my two sons to be good enough to enjoy playing a family doubles match.”