Sports of all kinds are increasingly becoming inclusive to people with disabilities. Tennis is a great example, with wheelchair tennis becoming increasingly popularity since 1976 due to the efforts of Brad Parks, seen as the creator of competitive wheelchair tennis. It has been contested at National Competitions since the 1980s, was introduced to the Paralympics in Barcelona in 1992 and to the major Grand Slam Tournaments from 2002.
Businesses have not been slow to recognise its popularity with the inaugural NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters taking place in The Netherlands in 1984. NEC continued to be the title sponsor for 20 years and still remains an Official Partner of the Tour. In 2004 Johann Cruyff Foundation became an ITF Wheelchair Tennis Partner to support the further development of an international junior wheelchair tennis programme. In 2009 BNP Paribas joined the growing family of Wheelchair Tennis Sponsors, as an Official Partner of both the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and the Invacare World Team Cup. In 2014 UNIQLO and the ITF jointly announced they had signed a three-year sponsorship agreement for the ITF’s major wheelchair tennis properties. This year UNIQLO extended its sponsorship of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour for an additional five years through 2021. In July UNIQLO announced Gordon Reid MBE, the world’s top male professional wheelchair tennis player, Paralympics singles gold medallist as its latest Global Brand Ambassador.
A Sport For All
Did you know that wheelchair users can play tennis against non-disabled players using the two bounce rule? Or that players with sight loss can compete using a foam ball that rattles? Mark Bullock, advisor in international inclusive sports development, outlines in the following article the diverse and inclusive nature of tennis.