Up to the 1980s, gay athletes were a hidden and marginalised community within the LGBTQ+ community. However, a group of brave Sunday social players began to organise gay tennis activities in Sydney. In 1982, an advertisement was placed in the Sydney Star Observer recruiting gay tennis players to join the group.
In 1984, the first Mardi Gras Festival took place and an inaugural tennis tournament was staged where approximately 130 players competed at the White City courts.
The Gay & Lesbian Tennis Association (GLTA) tournament format was adopted in 1988 and the Mardi Gras tournament was born (today known as AGLO, the Australian Gay & Lesbian Open). This inaugural knockout tournament at Kingsford Tennis Centre featured 51 men and women across all grades in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Tennis Sydney Inc was formed in the same year. The aims of the initial committee were to promote the game of tennis within the LGBTQ+ Sydney community and to improve the general standard of the players involved.
In 1995, the first spring tournament, named after Tennis Sydney legend Peter Deacon was held. AGLO and the Peter Deacon Tournament are currently the two major tournaments held by Tennis Sydney each year. Both are GLTA sanctioned events.
Amazon Tennis commenced in 1995 and continues to be an active and welcoming group in the Sydney lesbian sporting community. With weekly competition and social tennis being held all year round, Amazon Tennis provides a fun and supportive environment for tennis loving lesbians of all grades and ages.
In 1996, Tennis Sydney entered its first Mardi Gras Parade and was the first ever sporting body to “come out” promoting a healthy and competitive environment for the gay community.
In November 2002, the Gay Games VI was held in Sydney, the first Gay Games in the Southern Hemisphere which drew 11,000 participants for 31 sports and 11 cultural events from 80 countries. Tennis Sydney was the proud organiser of the tennis tournament for the games.
In May 2014, Amazon Tennis joined with Tennis Sydney to streamline administration and to offer more opportunities for local LGBTQ+ players and for visiting players from interstate and overseas. Tennis Sydney is now the largest LGBTI tennis club in Australasia with over 200 Members participating in weekly competitions, tournaments and social play each year.
A few professionals have participated in Tennis Sydney tournaments. At the 1994 Mardi Gras tournament, Chris O’Neil and Pam Whytcross competed in the women’s doubles. Chris previously won the Aussie Open singles final in 1978, and Pam and Chris both won a number of WTA doubles titles. At the 2017 Tennis Sydney Christmas Party, Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua was a surprise guest and awards presenter. She also received the inaugural Inspiration Award from the club.