Melbourne, Australia, 17 May 2020 | Leigh Rogers

Encouraging and welcoming everyone to play tennis is important to Tennis Australia.

“Everyone should feel that they can be a part of our sport regardless of gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality,” explained Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s Chief Executive Officer.

Tennis Australia, with the support of the Victorian Government, demonstrated that inclusivity at Australian Open 2020 with a rainbow-painted Melbourne sign on Court Three.

The bold statement celebrated the Glam Slam tournament, the only LGBTIQ+ tennis event in the world staged concurrently at the same venue as a Grand Slam tournament.

The 2020 edition of the Glam Slam, an annual Gay Lesbian Tennis Alliance-sanctioned event held at Melbourne Park for a third time, attracted more than 200 competitors from 35 countries.

“We have an opportunity through an event like the Glam Slam to make people more aware that they are welcome to be a part of tennis,” said Tiley, a nominee in the Ally of the Year category at the 2020 Australian Pride in Sport Awards.

The invitation to hold the Glam Slam finals for the first time on Court Three, one of Melbourne Park’s main show courts, thrilled Glam Slam tournament director Rowen D’Souza.

“We started playing on the outside clay courts three years ago and now we’ve become fully integrated,” D’Souza said.

“What I like about it is it’s a real symbol of belonging.”

The Glam Slam 2020 finals spectacular featured performing drag queens, courtside music, a celebrity match featuring Grand Slam doubles champion and fan favourite Casey Dellacqua, as well as the powerful rainbow sign painted on court. Fans of all ages showed their support, waving rainbow flags and enjoying the tennis matches.

“No one else around the world has that kind of support at a Grand Slam,” D’Souza said.

For Chris Bunting, a C Division men’s doubles finalist, it was an unforgettable experience.

“Growing up we all have dreams to play on those courts, and of course only the best make it. But it was really nice to have that opportunity, and in our own way, feel that we as LGBTQ+ identifying people can contribute to the Australian Open legacy – regardless of whether we have a serve like Serena or not,” he said.

“Sport should be inclusive to everybody. It was really special to see the rainbow sign on Court 3, I don’t think that has ever happened in Grand Slam history before! For me, it was a really nice moment to see the sport I love and the LGBTQ+ community to which I belong come together. Rainbows, tennis, music and drag queens all at a Grand Slam – the perfect combination!”

James Bourke, who won the C Division men’s doubles section, agreed. He grew up in Hobart watching the Australian Open on television, so was thrilled to have the opportunity to play at the event.

“It felt very prestigious to compete at Melbourne Park and walk around the grounds while the Australian Open was running. We even got official player passes,” he said.

“The energy around the grounds was exciting and it made the stakes of our own matches seem higher. Sports events are not always places where I would traditionally feel included, but the Glam Slam made me feel welcomed and even celebrated. I never thought I would be getting a trophy on an Australian Open court with a paying audience cheering from the stands.”

Happy International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia from a sport that is proudly open for all.