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Murray: Tennis is still 'too elitist'

ESPN staff
July 12, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Judy Murray wants better accessibility to public tennis courts throughout the UK © PA Photos
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Judy Murray has expressed concern with the availability of tennis in the United Kingdom, believing the sport is still "too elitist".

On Sunday, Murray witnessed her son Andy become the first British male to win the Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry in 1936 - but believes, on the back of his triumph, the sport will struggle to deal with any increased interest from the British public.

Murray, who is also a coach to the British Fed Cup team, is worried that certain areas of the country are still deprived of public tennis courts - and has called for the sport's organisations to provide better accessibility if it is to fully capitalise on her son's historic win.

"I'd like it [tennis] to become way more inclusive. I think it still is [too elitist]," Murray told BBC Newsnight. "Some moves have been made to make things better but there's still such a long way to go and there are huge swathes of the country where you can't find tennis courts.

"You need to build courts in areas where they currently don't exist for it to become a much more inclusive sport. The country will go tennis crazy. Kids and adults will want to try tennis and not all of them will get the opportunity.

"The key is to make sure there are as many public courts in as many communities we can put them in if we're going to tap into this great imagination. We need to get into rural areas and disadvantaged areas and get tennis to people that haven't had the opportunity to play."

However, Tom Gibbons - head of education at the Lawn Tennis Association - remains adamant that tennis is readily accessible, and stated the LTA is doing all in its power to inspire a new generation of players.

"We're trying to dispel lots of myths about tennis and one is that it has to be an expensive sport to play," Gibbons told BBC London. "The average weekly membership of a tennis club is less than £1.50 a week for a junior to play.

"There are 20,000 tennis courts up and down the country, 1500 of which are free. Tennis isn't an expensive sport, especially at beginner and recreational level.

"Andy gave British tennis its greatest moment ever and it's our job to capitalise on that interest and inspire more kids and adults to play tennis."

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