Free tennis is just around the corner: The first day after Wimbledon is always a strange one. A sudden void has appeared, an emptiness. The grandest, biggest, most historic tennis Grand Slam of them all has even the sporting agnostics engrossed in the grass court action. And then it has gone…

Andy Murray

But what a fortnight it was! Andy Murray carrying the nation’s hopes from the first day to the last and lifting the famous gold trophy. A tennis mad two weeks crowned by a home winner – surely the legacy for the sport and future success will be huge?


But does success breed success?

With the sport’s biggest showcase here every year and an undoubted following in excess of the other Slams, surely GB should have been producing a constant stream of Top 10 male and female players?

Whereas the facts are rather different. For decades and decades Britain has flirted only sporadically with great tennis success, individuals have popped up from time to time to single-handedly represent the UK on the global tennis stage.

Over the last 20 years Tim Henman carried a Top 10 ranking for a decade or more, won numerous tournaments and reached six Grand Slam semi finals. Greg Rusedski reached No.4 and a Grand Slam final and Andy Murray has burned brighter than all and gone on to eclipse everyone except the great Fred Perry – and he was born in 1909!

And for the girls…..well it is perhaps even more sparse. Virginia Wade and Sue Barker were Grand Slam champions in the 1970’s and Johanna Konta is now ranked World No.18, but there wasn’t much in between.

The other fact is, that of these listed names; Henman and Murray were coached outside the UK in their key development years, Greg Rusedski and Johanna Konta – though both devoted to the national cause – were born and bred elsewhere. And Virgina Wade was born in England but moved to South Africa aged 1 where she was raised until returning to the UK aged 15.

So not one of them is a complete product of the British tennis system. How come?

I’m pretty new to tennis and thought it would be the perfect time to look into this from the perspective of a total novice looking to get into the game. Maybe this would give me a clue?

Is tennis exclusive? Is it tricky to get into?

I am lucky enough the live in an area on the SE edge of London that has lots of parks and recreational space. As for tennis courts – we have loads. Seriously I was amazed. Great public courts – easy to book, free to use. £16 Sterling pounds buys a key and full online booking access for a whole year to play to your heart’s content.

This has been a revelation to me. So I have now taken to tennis with an almost crazed determination. And others can too!

This weekend I found a willing partner (or stooge maybe!) and played for five straight hours (for Free) and got a genuine and thrilling sense of improvement.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not firing down laser guided serves or hitting crosscourt winners from impossible angles, I’m just trying to get the ball over the net and in play regularly for decent rallies with what look like ‘proper shots’!.

WatchFit CEO Parisa Louie - free tennis

* WatchFit CEO Parisa Louie has well and truly caught the tennis bug and is getting the most out of free tennis in the London area

Tennis is widely and freely available

In the UK and elsewhere all over the world we are blessed with opportunities sitting right in our laps. From pub theatres to every imaginable sports related facility, something everywhere you look. Brilliant sports facilities just sitting there waiting for you to enjoy them. What’s not to like? As with so much in life, look around you, see what you’ve got. You will probably be pleasantly surprised.

Ignore the cynics!

Of course there are people who sit in pubs and bars all day sounding off about the Council or the Government or Bankers or anything else they want to give a verbal kicking too. But they tend to be the ones who are not participating, who are not making things happen, not seeking and exploring opportunities and getting involved. They have pitched their tent on the boundary and are just looking in and complaining about what they see.

There’s nothing stopping us…

So can I now explain the thin and sporadic nature of great British tennis talent on the world stage? Absolutely not. But what I do know is that tennis has a new convert and, if only we take the trouble to look, chances are we’ll discover there is more available to us that we thought and little to no personal expense.

The brilliant British writer, comedian, raconteur, musician and philanthropist Tony Hawks is also an avid tennis fan. So much so he established the Tennis For Free Charity in 2004.

The purpose of this charity is to ensure ongoing free tennis in the UK, easy access to as many decent quality free tennis courts as possible and, perhaps, to ensure the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) doesn’t get too complacent or relaxed on this matter.

My hometown is flush with brilliant free courts and I’m going to be swishing my racket a lot more this Summer. I might even give you a few progress updates! But for now maybe check out free tennis in your areas, there are initiatives all over the world,  have a go yourself or maybe encourage your children or other young relatives.

Wimbledon fortnight doesn’t have to be our national tennis fix (same applies to US, Australian and French Opens). The discovery of a single free tennis court might be all it takes for a youngster to discover an active sporting passion. It may even set them on a path to international stardom and the green green grass of Wimbledon!

Connect here with Expert Parisa Louie

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