Despite being home to one of the four tennis Grand Slams, it would be fair to say that Great Britain does not have a reputation for excellence in the sport.
Only a handful of players have reached the upper echelons in world tennis, with Andy Murray undoubtedly the most noteworthy example since the turn of the century.
However, recent participation figures published by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) suggest that British tennis could be set for a much brighter future.
The point is supported by increased interest in tennis from other sectors. For instance, according to bestbettingsites.com, tennis is now the second largest market after only football betting in Britain.
British Tennis Becoming Ever More Popular
The heightened attention in tennis has been driven in no small part by the LTA’s success in getting more people to play the sport more regularly.
Tennis has grown in popularity across Britain and is no longer an activity undertaken primarily by people at the upper end of the social scale.
The LTA has reported growth across all nations in Britain and in all demographics, particularly in the hugely important 16-34 age bracket.
More people from lower socio-economic backgrounds have also taken up the sport, putting to bed the notion that you need to be wealthy to play tennis.
The number of adults playing tennis during 2022 rose by a whopping 1.4 million to 4.7m – the highest total recorded since 2017.
More than two million adults now play every month, meaning the LTA has delivered ahead of time on its five-year strategy established in 2018 to break this barrier.
LTA Chief Executive, Scott Lloyd, said: “We are delighted with these figures and the fact that more and more people are choosing tennis.
“At the LTA our vision is tennis opened up, and we’ve worked hard to put solid foundations in place to make tennis more accessible.
“We have a fantastic network of coaches, volunteers, clubs and park courts – and we’re investing in all of these to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved.”
Lloyd’s bullishness about the progression made by British tennis is understandable given the growth of the sport at grassroots level.
Children’s weekly participation in tennis has boomed in the past year with more than 3.6m playing the sport and an additional 328,000 partaking in schools.
With an almost equal number of boys and girls playing tennis, the LTA has created a landscape where both sexes have a platform to flourish.
The innovative LTA Youth programme has made a swift impact since its launch in 2021, training over 10,000 teachers to deliver tennis in schools.
Other initiatives such as LTA Play Your Way, LTA SERVES, Open Court and She Rallies have also helped to make tennis more accessible than was previously the case.
The growth in participation has been fuelled in no small part by the LTA’s significant investment in improving the infrastructure of tennis in Britain.
This includes modern court and coach booking systems which make it simpler for people to find opportunities to play the sport locally.
Resources have also been ploughed into tennis clubs across the country, helping them to attract new members and retain their existing ones.
By helping the clubs become financially sustainable, the LTA has created the perfect conditions for tennis courts to be utilised more effectively.
More than £14.3m in loans and grants has been invested into new facilities, helping to drag the sport firmly into the 21st century.
The LTA, LTA Tennis Foundation and the UK Government have also teamed up to provide over £30m to refurbish park tennis courts and launch new products designed to attract more people into tennis.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray has unquestionably played a major role in helping tennis grow in popularity in recent years.
His sustained success has driven interest in the sport, helping to inspire a batch of players who are now making their mark at world level.
They include British number one Cameron Norrie, who is currently just outside the top 10 players in the world in the ATP Tour rankings.
Emma Raducanu is leading the charge for British female players having made a name for herself by winning the 2021 US Open while still a teenager.
Lloyd believes their successes on the world stage combined with the LTA’s various initiatives will deliver further growth in British tennis over the coming years.
“We’re committed to making our sport more inclusive and ensuring it appeals to a wider demographic through specially tailored initiatives like LTA Youth, She Rallies, LTA SERVES and LTA Open Court,” Lloyd added.
“We’ve also got some brilliant players at the top of the game who are flying the flag for British tennis internationally and providing inspiration to fans and the next generation alike.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved in British tennis for playing their part in growing the game.”