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How whisper over a table in The Bank House sparked a movement in the University of Gloucestershire’s Tennis club

“I’ve always faced men and their opinions on me. And most of the time it’s underestimation” explained Ella Hollingworth, one of the University of Gloucestershire’s Tennis Club’s latest and most active members.

In fact, despite only joining the club in October, it was her idea to launch Women in Tennis as the leading campaign for UoG Tennis, during the Varsity period in line with the #ShapeYourSport guidelines put out by the Student Union.

“My original opinion on this campaign was good because obviously I’m a woman and also I came up with the idea. So it’s nice to be recognised” joking later that, that fact didn’t need to be included “You don’t have to include that if you want to take away a woman’s voice, but that’s fine”

She’s right though, it was her idea. Sat around a table at a Wetherspoons, The Bank House to be precise just off the high street in Cheltenham.

It was just three of them sat around the table, Hollingworth, the vice-captain Chloe Boulton, and the club captain. While they were on the topic of what to do for their Varsity campaign, she had the confidence to suggest it to the most senior members of the club.

Hollingworth drove home that “The campaign means a lot to me as a feminist because women are equally as important in tennis as men, and men are equally as important as women in tennis. There shouldn’t be a separation there”.

Even suggesting that the world needs to know that “Serena Williams could beat any of us any day.”

But Women in Tennis is such a difficult topic to tackle, as the inequalities the professionals face are very different to those amateurs do. Women are fairly equally represented in tennis, with the Lawn Tennis Association, the governing body for tennis in Great Britain, claiming 42% of tennis players are female.

But that is not the case at UoG, they lag behind those numbers at a lowly 27%, and while the rest of the tennis world saw an uptick in female participation in 2023, the University team saw a downturn.

“When there’s a group of people and they’re all one type of person, it’s intimidating for anyone different from that in any way to feel safe and comfortable in that environment” is how Hollingworth put her initial fears of joining the club into words.

Although she’d later find comfort in the club, “The people made me feel welcome. Now when I go, it’s not always to train or be the best at tennis. It’s just to have a laugh and to knock around.”

But the second-year is quick to highlight that it doesn’t change the fact that “It’s important to have more girls in the club because it generates more diversity, even if it’s that just by having both men and women there. and if you’ve got a diverse range, it feels like a more safe environment, if that makes sense. If you walked into a room and it was all old men, you’d feel a little bit…”

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