Exclusive: Tennis Australia’s Plans For Women
In an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport, Tennis Australia’s head of women and girls, Andrea Buckeridge discussed how the organisation is helping grow women’s tennis.
Leading the way for women’s sport:
On the growth women’s tennis has seen over the last couple of decades, Buckeridge said Tennis Australia has led the way in providing opportunities for women and girls in the sport.
“The sport has been at the forefront because women have an equal exposure, they’ve received equal prize money since 2001 at the Australian Open, and now have equal prize money at all four grand slams,” Buckeridge said.
“The exposure that those players get internationally also has an impact, and obviously this year with Ash at the Australian Open, the semi-finals were moved to primetime. They were on a Thursday afternoon but got moved to Thursday night and had phenomenal ratings.
“Then in the final I think most of Australia’s stopped and watched her play, there was 4.3 million viewers watching that match at some point.
“So, I think Ash certainly has a big impact in terms of continuing to have a focus on women and girls and encouraging girls to playing tennis,” she said.
Additionally, Buckeridge said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has been a champion of change and has helped propel tennis towards equality.
On being able to use Ash Barty as a female ambassador for the sport, Buckeridge said she’s an indigenous ambassador, a big investor in tennis and is also a major role model for all Australians.
“Just the way she behaves, the way that she carries herself, what she has to say and we’re certainly in discussions with her. A couple of years ago, Ash was sort of the face of a campaign that we had to get girls into sport called a play for you,” Buckeridge said.
“It was also wonderful for everyone to watch her at Wimbledon, the grand slams and the Olympics.
“There are so many opportunities to showcase the sport when tennis gets the centre stage and we’re focused on tennis being a sport for life, so having her as a role model for all people, not just the young girls, but for older people as well is great for the sport,” she said.
Future goals for Tennis Australia:
On the initiatives Tennis Australia has in place to encourage women to continue in tennis, Buckeridge said they have free entry-level coaching courses on offer to women and girls, where they’re in an encouraging environment.
“We also offer women’s coaching scholarships for our more formal education. So, when you become a qualified coach, we offer 50% scholarships for women, then we also have a programme called coach connect,” Buckeridge said.
“So, Nicole Pratt, who is a former top 30 and Billie Jean King Cup player, drives this and it consists of four different parts.
“There’s mentoring, where we have 94 coaches that are involved in our digital mentoring programme called mentor loop.
“Then we offer professional development that’s specifically for female coaches.
“We’re also offering networking events for them to attend, and once a month, there’s a virtual online series where coaches can join. That was really successful, especially during the pandemic when people weren’t able to go out,” she said.
Buckeridge also said the national development squad (NDS) offers 12-month scholarships for women to work there, which has had a big impact on increasing diversity in coaches.
Additionally, she said the NDS is providing opportunities for young athletes to gain exposure from big role models in the sport.
To read the previous MOS Brand Break where GIS president, Sharona Friedman discussed the upcoming launch of their MCG teaching hub, click here.