The mum of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray put pupils at a Birmingham school through their paces as part of a drive to encourage more youngsters to play tennis.
The Strictly Come Dancing star was at Broadway Academy to help launch the Tennis Foundation ’s new three-year strategy aimed at ridding the sport of its elitist image.
The Perry Barr school is one of 19,000 across the country being supported by the charity, which manages British tennis’s education programme with support from the Lawn Tennis Association. Together, they have pledged to make tennis more available to the masses by 2018, particularly focusing on targeting inner city and disadvantaged areas where opportunities to play the sport are often limited.
“Andy is doing a great job at keeping tennis in the public eye with everything that he has achieved,” said Judy.
“It is good to have role models, but we need activity at grassroots level. And that’s where schools and community groups can make a big impact.
“Tennis is so adaptable and it can be played almost anywhere if you have a bit of imagination.
“Schools are the perfect place for kids and teenagers to try all sorts of sports. Tennis can be played by pupils of any age and ability, using mini-nets with softer balls in a school hall or playground.
“The more pupils we can engage with, the more chance we have to stimulate a love of our game that will feed our clubs and parks.
“That’s why I’m supporting the Tennis Foundation and LTA with the work they are doing to engage all young people, whatever their background, to enjoy all the benefits that tennis can bring, whether playing, coaching, volunteering, refereeing or finding a career in the sport.”
Geoff Newton, executive director of the Tennis Foundation, said the charity had in the last five years helped to train 38,000 PE teachers how to coach tennis at schools across the UK.
“There are still big opportunities out there, particularly in challenging areas like inner cities” he said. “We have to make it work in these kinds of communities or we are simply managing a decline in the sport.
“People perceive it to be an expensive, snobby sport for white people, but it is none of those things and our job is to break those perceptions and barriers down.
“If we can get 1.5 million kids playing tennis instead of 500,000, then we are increasing the talent pool and we are three times as likely to find the next Andy Murray.”