“It makes a huge difference on court as you can be your authentic self” – Lucy Shuker talks Pride, confidence on court, and sport’s journey towards inclusion
• 3 MINUTE READ
As we celebrate Pride month this June – and in partnership with our LGBTQ+ network for tennis in Britain, Pride in Tennis – we’re shining a spotlight on a number of inspiring individuals across the UK who want to help and pave the way for others in the sport.
We recently connected with Great Britain’s very own Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Player, Lucy Shuker, to talk sexuality and the labels that far too often accompany the conversation.
“Publicly I don’t shout about it, and I don’t like to put a label on myself,” Lucy commented. “I’ve fallen in love with someone that happens to be a woman, but for me, I’m just Lucy. I don’t necessarily feel that people have to be stuck in a label. My performances on the court are not because of my sexuality. People who know me, know me as Lucy and the fact that my partner’s a female is just how it is. I think everyone who gets to know me just accepts me for who I am.
“I’ve never received any negative comments. There are a few LGBTQ+ players on the Tour, but everyone just accepts us for who we are. I think everyone is just respectful to each other.”
Most, if not everyone, are aware of the symbol of LGBTQ+ pride – namely, the rainbow flag. However, very few are aware of the meaning behind the well-renowned six-colour fusion. In particular, the flags purple hue represents spirit; the spirit of confidence that comes with being true to yourself.
“If you feel confident, if you feel happy, then us as athletes, we can perform better,” Lucy added. “I think it makes a huge difference on court as you can be your authentic self. Yet, if we’re subject to any discrimination, hate, or treated in an unfair way, then it makes life difficult and, in turn, impacts our careers.
“I also think it’s important that people feel comfortable to be a role model across all sports. Some sports may be more intense or visible than others, but the fact remains that it’s always important to support each other and the community in any way we can as that will only further the progress of inclusivity in sport.”
Having turned professional more than a decade ago and achieved over 100 career titles, Lucy has witnessed the sports industry evolve and better itself to become a more LGBTQ+ inclusive space, but the former World Doubles Champion maintains the journey isn’t over yet.
“For me personally, I don’t think there is any difference in how I’ve been treated,” she added. “I’ve been aware of how other people have been treated and I feel nowadays it’s more understood and accepted but there is still some hate towards this community. So, I still feel there is a fair way to go, and I’d love to be in a position where we don’t have to have this conversation because it’s just the norm.
“Tennis is a widely regarded sport. So many people play it regardless of their age, background, or ethnicity. So, if tennis can be a leading sport in championing diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community, then we’ll be laying the groundwork for other sports to follow.”
How are we celebrating Pride Month?
Find out more about how we're celebrating Pride Month at our summer events with 'Friday Pride Days'.