UK padel celebrates International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day, with padel clubs around the country marking the day with special events and a focus on encouraging more females into the sport. The Bandeja has spoken with three of the UK’s most influential women padel players, former GB tennis ace Annabel Croft, GB’s top women’s player Tia Norton and Femme Open UK’s Pep Stonor, with all agreeing that padel is a phenomenal sport to engage females of all ages.

Annabel, an ambassador for Game4Padel, told us: “Anything that encourages more girls and women into sport generally is a good thing, and padel is a really accessible sport. It can be played by anyone and everyone and whatever level you are, you can still get great enjoyment from it. Padel is fantastic for overall health and fitness, and mental health in particular. It’s also so positive to learn a new skill, whatever your age. I play because I also love the social aspect of the game. I play with friends, and we laugh a lot. It’s always so much fun. 

We asked what padel means to Annabel: “Padel definitely keeps me fit. Racket sports are considered to be of benefit as we age, as they keep you fit mentally and physically, so it’s good from that point of view. I think it’s also a great way of connecting with people – anyone can pick up padel as it’s so easy to learn, so you can play with friends or family that might not otherwise enjoy racket sports. Plus it’s a nice way to switch off from everything else going on in your life.”

Annabel Croft loves padel
Annabel Croft


Her comments were echoed by Tia Norton, also a Game4Padel ambassador and currently preparing to participate in her second Pro Padel League tournament in America. She said: “Sport in general creates so many benefits for girls/women but padel in particular offers an enjoyment that I’ve never experienced in any other sport. Due to the fact that it is smaller, there is such a community around it, and it’s inclusive to everyone. Whether you want to play with friends, family, whoever, padel is a very easy sport to understand and offers so many psychological and physical benefits.”

What does the sport mean to Tia?: “Padel has offered and given me so much in the eight years I have been playing it. I count myself extremely lucky to have been introduced to it at such a young age and to have had all the opportunities I’ve had. From being able to travel the world, compete for my country, play the sport professionally and meet all the incredible people that I have, padel is so much more than just a sport for me. I’m lucky to be able to do the thing I love and enjoy endlessly as my full time job. That’s something I’m extremely proud of – and I have to thank padel for.”

Tia Norton
Tia Norton in action

IWD events

It’s a busy day for Tia, who is supporting Femme Open UK’s launch of an initiative to raise funds for girls’ padel lessons, and Padium’s first women’s event. 

Pep Stonor, founder of leading women’s padel network Femme Open UK, is at The Hurlingham Club, London, today to kick off its scheme to provide lessons for girls. Together with Tia, she will be joined by TV presenter Gigi Salmon and TeamGB hockey international Sophie Bray.

The event, which will include a panel discussion about the barriers women face in sport, is a precursor to a Femme Open event at The Hurlingham in June (in partnership with The Hurlingham Foundation) to raise funds for extending padel provision for girls.

Gigi Salmon
Gigi Salmon

Femme Open UK plans to use funds from both events to offer primary school aged girls free padel lessons from September. The organisation recently hosted its first ever junior event at The Padel Hub in Slough, offering a free taster session for girls.

Pep Stonor, Head of Femme Open UK, said: “Despite padel being incredibly inclusive and accessible as a sport, there are still fewer girls and young women taking it up than men and boys. Obviously, there are multiple reasons why this might be but providing free access to lessons is a great first step in encouraging girls to give padel a go. 

“The Femme brand was set up to provide a place for women to feel comfortable in sport, providing networking opportunities and a place where healthy, friendly rivalry could take place on court, and friendships be built off court. We are aware of the power of sport to transform lives and are committed to promoting the physical and mental benefits of being active. Femme Open has always welcomed women from all walks of life to join the community and so it’s important we engage girls too as the evidence is clear that active girls become active adults.”

Pep Stonor, Femme Open UK
Femme Open UK's Pep Stonor (left) with players at one of the organisation's events.


This evening Tia is at Padium’s first women’s event, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day. The Canary Wharf club in London is hosting a sold-out coaching clinic run by Tia followed by socialising and refreshments. The event is supported by Babolat.

Padium assistant manager Lily Freeman said: “It will be an awesome day to champion women in padel and our growing female community at Padium.” 🎾