ATP seeks to make tennis more inclusive – The Hill

Story at a glance

  • The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) on Friday announced a partnership with You Can Play, a group dedicated to eradicating homophobia in sports and a long-time partner of professional organizations including the NHL and MLS.

  • The ATP said the partnership was the result of a survey conducted last year in which 75 percent of athletes said they had heard other players using anti-LGBTQ+ language.

  • Currently, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players in men’s tennis.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) on Friday announced it would be teaming up with You Can Play, a group dedicated to eradicating homophobia in sports, after a majority of tennis players surveyed by the men’s tennis tour said they had witnessed other players using anti -LGBTQ+ language.

The tour in a news release Friday said it is launching a multi-year education partnership with You Can Play, a longtime partner of the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing ( NASCAR).

Together, the two organizations will create “science-based educational content” to be rolled out across ATP players, tournaments and staff over the coming seasons. The program will be directly informed by a survey conducted by the tour last year, in which 75 percent of players reported having heard other players use “homophobic slurs,” the ATP said.

According to the survey, developed in collaboration with Pride Sports and researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, while anti-LGBTQ+ language is commonly used in tennis, very few players expressed homophobic attitudes.

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Overwhelmingly, participants in the anonymous survey – a majority of which are ranked inside the world’s Top 250 – said such pejorative language creates a negative environment for all athletes on the court, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most players agreed with the statement “I want homophobic language to stop.”

Those findings are consistent with the results of similar surveys conducted by sports organizations including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which found that homophobic language negatively impacts the mental health of all athletes.

Currently, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players in men’s tennis.

The ATP on Friday said the new partnership reflects its commitment to developing a program that will foster LGBTQ+ inclusion.

“Tennis is one of the world’s most global and diverse sports,” Massimo Calvelli, the tour’s chief executive, said Friday in a statement. “Through ATP Serves, it’s our goal to ensure the culture of tennis is as inclusive and welcoming as possible. This requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and continue asking the right questions.”

Calvelli, a former professional tennis player who has served as ATP CEO since 2019, said the results of the organization’s survey that showed rampant use of anti-LGBTQ+ language “identified clear areas where we can be doing better.”

“We would like to thank everybody for their contributions to this process so far and, together with You Can Play, look forward to making meaningful progress in years to come,” he said.

Published on Jul. 22, 2022

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