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James Swanson on pride in tennis and LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport

James Swanson on pride in tennis and LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport
James Swanson on pride in tennis and LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport

 


For our second feature for LGBTQ+ Pride Month 2024, we sat down with Pride in Tennis Chairman James Swanson to talk about his route into the sport, his inspirations and inclusivity in tennis.

James Swanson is a man who loves his sport. Although the chairman of Pride in Tennis, the LGBTQ+ network for tennis in Britain, clearly considers taking the court as his greatest passion, he has experience in basketball, ice hockey, football and rugby at a club, nationally and internationally. level. Where did this passion for sports begin?

“I was born in Cyprus, and in the years that followed our family moved to Germany, Italy and finally to Denmark. Although there was a lot of movement, the one constant was our involvement in the sport; especially tennis, table tennis, squash and badminton. These sports formed the structure of our weekends, regardless of which country we lived in. Tennis was the most consistent feature of the four, with our interests being both on the court and watching grand slams on TV.

“I vividly remember sitting next to the tennis courts in our apartment complex in Rome, watching my parents play mixed doubles, and desperately wanting to participate myself.”

Playing together as a family taught James the basics of the game, but it was through an icon of the game that James truly fell in love with tennis.

“I completely fell in love with tennis in the year 2000, when I watched Venus Williams beat Lindsay Davenport to win the women's singles title at the Wimbledon Championships. What I didn't know at the time was that this youthful fandom was the beginning of my inherent celebration of diversity, which has served as a golden thread throughout my life in sports.

“My admiration for Venus quickly resulted in a similar connection with Serena, who, together with Roger Federer and Monica Seles, formed the core pillars of the relationship with the professional game on both the men's and women's circuits. They all brought something distinctive to the game and changed the landscape of the sport.”

James also recognizes the platform that two other icons of the sport helped establish to showcase tennis as one of the first LGBTQ+ inclusive sports: Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. “Martina and Billie Jean were incredible pioneers in many ways,” he says, “for sexual orientation, gender equality and physicality in sports.”

While their respective impacts on the game remain enormous, given that there are a number of openly LGBTQ+ players on the WTA Tour, can tennis now look to build on their legacies even more?

“I would say… it's time for tennis to break away from the platform they've built,” James said. “We need to further celebrate today's LGBTQ+ stars, further promote an inclusive environment in sport and encourage authentic self-expression on both the WTA and ATP tours.”

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.lta.org.uk/news/pride-month-2024-james-swanson-on-pride-in-tennis-and-lgbtq-inclusion-in-sport/

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