Tennis NSW Inclusion and Diversity Lead Nikita Sayle 

Tennis NSW has been awarded the LGBTQ Inclusive Initiative Award at the 2024 Pride in Sport Awards for the outstanding work accomplished through the Syndey WorldPride Tennis Project.

To foster inclusivity and reduce homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in local tennis environments, The Sydney WorldPride Tennis Project was brought to life to ensure that all individuals could participate in tennis in a safe and inclusive environment. Additionally, the project focused on engaging the LGBTQ+ community through tennis participation to promote health and wellbeing benefits while illustrating the vital role that sport and physical recreation can play on an individual’s overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Through generous funding from the NSW Government and Tennis Australia, the project introduced new LGBTQ+ training and educational resources for clubs and staff, as well as mental health campaigns, tennis programs, and various activations.

Tennis NSW Inclusion and Diversity Lead Nikita Sayle expressed deep gratitude for the support, stating, “We are very grateful for the funding support we received from the NSW Government, through the Mental Health Sports Fund, and Tennis Australia. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we did with this project. The project was a huge undertaking, allowing us to build some wonderful partnerships and make progress in LGBTQ+ inclusion in tennis for long-term change. The guidance we receive through our Pride in Sport Membership and access to participation in the Pride in Sport Index has been critical to shaping our strategy and execution in this important area.”

Specifically, in conjunction with one of the project partners, Proud 2 Play, a club development program, Rainbow Ready Club, was launched, engaging three venues in the Sydney metropolitan region.
Collaroy Tennis Club, City Community Tennis and Blacktown Leisure Centre Stanhope participated in the program, which included an LGBTQ+ inclusion audit, education sessions, and action planning for LGBTQ+ inclusion. Participating venues were supported to deliver an introductory tennis program for LGBTQI+ community members aligning with Sydney WorldPride 2023.

Ally of the Year finalist Dave Keogh from Collaroy Tennis Club was also recognised at the 2024 Pride in Sport Awards for his achievements made in the LGBTQ+ space and his involvement in Collaroy’s Rainbow Ready Club program. Dave Keogh shared his pride in being a Pride in Sport Award Finalist, “I’m honoured to receive a nomination and to be listed as a Finalist for Ally of the Year at the 2024 National Pride in Sport Awards, but I know that I’m only in this position due to the collective philosophy of Collaroy Tennis Club’s Management Committee and the wider community. We all agree that people are people, regardless of their identity and that everyone has the right to enjoy our wonderful sport in a safe and
supportive environment.”

Furthermore, the project allowed Tennis NSW to build and strengthen relationships with like-minded LGBTQ+ organisations and tennis clubs. In particular, Tennis NSW worked closely with Tennis Sydney, Australia’s largest LGBTQI+ tennis club, and supported them in delivering the Tennis Sydney WorldPride Open 2023.

“We are so proud to partner with Tennis NSW. With their ongoing and generous support, they continue to elevate LGBTQIA+ tennis, expanding the love of sport and community where everyone is welcome to participate. The WorldPride project was multi-faceted across two weeks and took over 12 months to plan. The team at Tennis NSW works to amplify inclusive tennis for all!” Tyler Juel, President Tennis Sydney.

In addition to being awarded the LGBTQ Inclusive Initiative Award, Tennis NSW was also honoured with Gold Tier Status for the Pride in Sport Index. Nikita Sayle stated, “Over the past four years, Tennis NSW has consistently improved its Pride in Sport Index result yearly. This year, to be recognised as a leading sporting organisation by reaching Gold Tier Status, along with 11 other sports organisations across the country, including Tennis Australia, who have been leading the way for years, is an achievement we are proud of.”

“We are committed to working to ensure that our sport is welcoming, safe, and inclusive for everyone. We will continue to strive to work on this through the execution of our Tennis NSW Inclusion and Diversity plan and engaging with diverse communities, Members, and partners.” To learn more about Tennis NSW’s LGBTQ+ programs and opportunities, please visit our website here.