Game on: LGBT+ inclusion in Australian tennis

Sports participation LGBTI Social inclusion

Tennis is a popular sport in Australia. Tennis Australia is committed to diversity, in particular adult participation, and recognizes LGBT+ inclusion as an important area of growth and development. Evidence suggests that LGBT+ people attempting to participate in sport often find themselves in environments that are unwelcoming, hostile and discriminatory. This study explored the lived experience of LGBT+ participation and engagement with tennis, and a set of recommendations (targeted initiatives) has been developed for Tennis Australia to promote and enact LGBT+ inclusion. To gain a comprehensive insight into the perception of tennis amongst the LGBT+ communities we employed a qualitative research design drawing on the methods of semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observations. We conducted a total of 44 interviews - current players of tennis (N= 27) and those not currently engaged with tennis (N= 17). In addition, we conducted 3 focus groups and over 50 hours of observations at various LGBT+ tennis tournaments in Sydney, Hobart, Perth and Melbourne. The report is structured into four themes offering a depth of discussion to inform Tennis Australia, about approaches for creating a more inclusive experience for LGBT+ tennis players. This is one of the first pieces of Australian research documenting the positive impact that playing sport, specifically tennis, has on the lives of LGBT+ people. It highlights the importance of fostering social LGBT+ connections, maintaining health and wellbeing, while enjoying a hobby without fear of judgement, hostility, or discrimination.

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