Clare Balding for BT Sport
Clare Balding for BT Sport

Clare Balding is predicting 2019 will be a breakthrough year for women's sport in the UK, as she believes female athletes will be making front and back page headlines like never before.

Balding hosted BT Sport's coverage of Britain's magnificent Federation Cup victories in Bath last week and she has told Female First that the next few months offer huge opportunities for homegrown female talent to make sporting waves.

"In non-Olympic years, women's sports can struggle a little to get media attention," she told us. "At Olympic Games, women athletes tend to get more than their fair share of air time and media coverage and historically, they have been the most successful participants for Team GB.

"When a huge event like the Olympic is not on the calendar, as is the case in 2019, it can be challenging for women's sport to compete wit the established sporting events that tend to be played by men, but the events coming up later in this year should ensure we get huge coverage of women's sports.

"The Federation Cup tennis match featuring the British girls in Bath was competing against Six Nations rugby, Premier League football and it is did more than okay in terms of getting media coverage, so hopefully that is a sign of things to come in 2019.

"We have the women's football World Cup in France later this year as well as the Ashes cricket. The netball World Cup is coming up in Liverpool and the new W series of motor racing is also coming to the fore as well.

"These are all exciting events that the British public can get behind and they will help to showcase the wonderful spectacle of women's sport. It's happening, it's finally happening and for the generations to come it is so exciting. 

"Hopefully they will get the respect and the credit they are due for their achievements and the fan base needs to expand. The crowds we saw at the Fed Cup tennis event in Bath have been fantastic and we want to see more of that at other women's sports events.

"Sports like tennis, netball, football and cricket are all making their move now I'm excited to see how those sports develop for their women athletes in the coming years."

Clare Balding and Laura Robson for BT Sport
Clare Balding and Laura Robson for BT Sport

Balding went on to suggest the surge of interest in Britain's Fed Cup heroics earlier this month will fuel enthusiasm for tennis among young girls, at a time when the sport faces strong competition in its bid to attract the nation's best young athletes. 

"The timing of the Fed Cup match in Bath was perfect for tennis as there is a danger that the sport is not the focus for young girls at school any more because there are so many other options now," she explained. "We need to continue to promote tennis in schools and seeing inspiring players doing well for a British team has to help that cause.

"People like Judy Murray going around and trying to encourage girls to get into coaching and puttying on sessions for young players that don't need six courts is a wonderfully inspiring initiative and we want more girls to start playing tennis.

"The court hire and coaching may be expensive, but the starting price to play the game is relatively cheap compared to golf or motor racing. 

"I hope the success of the British Fed Cup team will inspire some to believe there is a path to successful sporting career in tennis. 

"You cannot judge a sport just on how many people are playing it because success at the top level should also be factored into it. We have more girls in the top 100 now than there were five years ago and you look at the profile of women's tennis and ask where it is now. I think it is in a great place and the events at the Fed Cup event in Bath confirmed as much."

BT Sport is the home of women’s tennis, bringing you action from across the world on the WTA Tour and Fed Cup. For more information visit

MORE: Clare Balding on female football pundits and why they are still chasing parity

MORE: Jeremy Bates thinks the Fed Cup could inspire the rise of British women's tennis

Words by Kevin Palmer, who you can follow on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer.

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