IN A week when Queenslander Ash Barty is the first Australian woman to top world tennis rankings since the great Yvonne Goolagong in 1976, it is beyond disappointing to find that a suburban Newcastle tennis club thinks it is alright to exclude women members, especially while operating from ratepayer funded courts.
As the Newcastle Herald is reporting, a complaint by leading Newcastle tennis player Emma Pollock has led the City of Newcastle to rightly warn Adamstown Rosebud Tennis Club it will lose the use of its council-owned courts in Bryant Street, Adamstown, unless it amends its constitution to admit women members with the same rights as men.
Although the club has made some concessions, correspondence shows it is still reluctant to move into the modern world by admitting women as full members.
Women face all sorts of barriers and prejudices that men often fail to recognise, but sport is one area of life that has embraced a massive expansion of female participation, with women's competitions proving extremely popular across a range of once male-only, or male-dominated, sports.
At all levels, from children through to the heights of professional sport, girls and women are constantly breaking down barriers. Women footballers such as Sam Kerr and Emily van Egmond are household names, as are Australian pro surfers Stephanie Gilmore and world number one Sally Fitzgibbons.
Women's football in all of the codes is on the rise. In professional tennis, prize money is moving closer to equality with the men. All of these examples are part of a global trend that leaves the Adamstown club - and any other sporting body that puts men ahead of women, or excludes women altogether - completely out of touch with modern values.
The Adamstown club's attitude is all the harder to understand because tennis has always been a sport that women have played - and that women and men have played together, as the "mixed doubles" format attests. Describing the club's position as "unacceptable", Tennis Australia describes tennis as a "welcoming and inclusive" sport. It's true there was a time when many clubs admitted women as "associate" members, but those days are over.
In the 21st century, there are no reasons to oppose gender equity in sport, or in life.
There are only excuses.
Further reading: Matildas eye Olympics after World Cup loss