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Interview with Tennis Star Leon Smith
He’s been the captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team since 2010 and led the team to victory in last year’s Davis Cup. Now tennis star Leon Smith tells us what he loves most about being a father to his three young children, aged eight, six and three, and how Wimbledon can inspire young people to become involved in tennis. Here’s what he had to say!
UKMums.tv: How do you usually celebrate Father’s Day, and what do you think you’ll be doing to mark the occasion this year?
Leon: As with most family occasions, I tend to be away from home travelling with work. I am rarely around for birthdays or anniversaries but often for Father's Day I'll find a little surprise present or card in my travel bag left by the kids. We normally "save the occasion" till I'm home and go for a nice dinner somewhere.
UKMums.tv: You work closely with Andy Murray who’s become a new dad. What advice have you given him about fatherhood?
Leon: I tend to think that new parents get so much advice thrown at them that I don't go on the front foot with it...but what's nice is being able to sit around the dinner table with someone like Andy and share our experiences of fatherhood. He is and will be a wonderful father as he has such good values and is an incredible role model.
UKMums.tv: Wimbledon starts soon. Do your children play tennis?
Leon: Having Wimbledon in this country is fantastic for our sport. The best bit about Wimbledon is that it seemingly inspires the nation to pick up a racket, find a court, and get active playing social and competitive tennis. My older children are starting to play regularly now and even my 3 year old enjoys playing whenever he gets the opportunity.
UKMums.tv: What tips do you have for parents to get their children started in the sport?
Leon: I’ve got five golden rules that I live by - do all these and it’s sure to encourage your kids to be more active!
1. Make it fun: Kids are far more likely to be involved and stay involved if they are enjoying themselves.
2. Praise and encouragement: Give lots of it, the first introduction into a new sport is so important.
3. Be creative: It doesn’t matter if you’re not able to go outside or to a local park, there are plenty of activities and games which can easily be done indoors, it just takes a bit of creativity.
4. Get involved yourself: If you are doing it and having fun they are far more likely to follow your lead on it.
5. Make the most of your time: Everyone is very busy but I promise even 10-15 minutes a day of doing exercise like this with your child will make a big difference over the years.
UKMums.tv: You’re supporting the Ready to Play campaign. Please tell us a bit about it and why it’s got your backing?
Leon: The Ready to Play campaign encourages parents to get their children interested in playing tennis from a young age. Everything about the campaign is designed to be less hassle, less time consuming and require minimal resources from the parents’ side. I’ve filmed a series of activities that parents can do at home without much time or equipment, see them here.