An LGBTQ+ pioneer has been recognised with the prestigious LTA President’s Award at the LTA Tennis Awards, presented by Lexus.  

Ian Pearson-Brown was singled out for the award for his tireless work promoting the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in tennis.  

A co-chair of the recently formed Pride in Tennis, Pearson-Brown glowed at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton as he talked about how much the sport had grown in recent years.  

“It is very emotional, the last time I stood up on that stage was February 2022 and we had just launched Pride in Tennis,” the 42-year-old said.  

“I remember doing my keynote speech and asking the 50 or so activists in the room that had come whether any of them had seen a rainbow flag at a tennis event and not one person put their hand up.  

“It just showed how little there had been in terms of visibility in tennis so to go from there to now being, I would say, the leading sport in LGBTQ+ inclusion is unbelievable.   

“I have won the award but there have been so many people from the LTA and from Pride in Tennis that have helped us get the message out that regardless of your sexuality and gender identity you can play tennis at a grassroots level and performance level and can do so as your authentic self.”  

The annual LTA Tennis Awards, presented by Lexus, highlight and celebrate the incredible achievements and contributions of people in tennis across Britain.  

First launched in 2015 with the help of former LTA president Cathie Sabin OBE, they recognise the vital work of volunteers, coaches, officials, and players dedicating their precious time and energy to the continual development and growth of the sport.  

Over the past nine years, the awards have illustrated the depth of service and talent within the tennis community and serve as an inspiration to others to get involved in the game.     

The winners, selected from more than 2,200 nominations across 15 different categories, have all been acknowledged for their outstanding contribution to tennis in 2023. 

Pearson-Brown, from Gateshead, works as a tennis coach and is a member of Blaydon Tennis Club and has devoted upwards of 40 hours a week of his spare time to building Pride in Tennis.  

He explained the emotional reason why he believes that LGBTQ+ inclusion is so important.  

He said: “Even in 2024 in the UK, LGBTQ+ people are less likely to be physically active, significantly more likely to have a long-term mental health problem and significantly more likely to be discriminated against in a sport environment at every level.   

“So that has generated a lot of health inequalities and our work is to overcome those inequalities and break down some of the barriers that exist for LGBTQ+ people in sport.   

“I’m unfortunate enough to have experienced all of those barriers as a young queer athlete myself, I suffered from a lot of mental health problems with depression, anxiety and even some suicide attempts, on the back of not being able to be my authentic self either playing or working as a coach.  

“So to have gone form that space and to be out in my role as a coach and be able to take my negative experiences and hopefully make an impact so no other young person has to go through some of the experiences I have.   

“It has been massive for me and some of the feedback I have had reflects on that.   

“All of this work that we do, if it helps one young person feel more comfortable in their own skin to the point that they want to continue living, then it is worth doing.”  

LTA President Sandi Procter said: “The ceremony has been a tremendous celebration of the people that make our sport so special.   

“The incredible stories behind the finalists are so heart-warming to hear. The hard work and dedication of all the winners and runners-up too is unbelievable, and I am always so impressed by the selfless sacrifice of all the volunteers, officials, and coaches.   

“I have always been passionate about the grassroots and the awards are our way of highlighting the extraordinary contribution of the individuals and venues that help us open tennis up bringing new players and fans to the game.’’ 

The annual LTA Tennis Awards, presented by Lexus.