Wimbledon - LTA chief: We must capitalise on Andy Murray win to promote British tennis

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Andy Murray - Wimbledon 2016

Wimbledon - LTA chief: We must capitalise on Andy Murray win to promote British tennis

Andy Murray - Wimbledon 2016

Murray has been crowned champion of the All England Club for a second time on Sunday, after an emphatic victory over Canada's Milos Raonic secured his third grand slam title.

The Scot became the first British male singles winner in 77 years when he beat Novak Djokovic three years ago but tennis in this country, like many sports, has continued to endure a decline.

The latest Sport England figures show 819,400 people aged 14 and older are playing tennis at least once a month, down from 895,600 in October 2013.

Downey, who took charge at the LTA in January 2014, has targeted park courts, which can be cheaper and more accessible, by working with local authorities to offer coaching programmes and improve struggling facilities.

Murray's latest success on Centre Court may inspire a new crop of young players but Downey believes British tennis is now in a better position to take advantage.

"There are always lessons learned and we know we can do more this time," Downey told Press Association Sport.

"That's because our sport has been on a long-term decline and in 2013 there was a slowing of that decline. But we hadn't built enough of a provision in park courts around the country.

"I might take my kid out to play tennis because Andy won Wimbledon but if the experience isn't good, I'm not going to keep playing.

"We're now working on making sure we build a better provision in parks so that it's more than a one-off experience when someone goes out to play tennis.

"This weekend is another Great British Tennis weekend, we have 20,000 people booked in for a free session and we expect more to come now because Andy won Wimbledon."

Murray himself ditched the LTA to train in Spain as a teenager and then criticised the organisation following Britain's sensational Davis Cup win last year.

Downey says the world number two's most valuable contribution comes on court.

"If Andy continues to do what he's doing, he will keep inspiring a nation," Downey said. "Our role is to capture that inspiration."

Murray's celebration was one of five British success stories at Wimbledon, as Heather Watson took home the mixed doubles title, Gordon Reid won the wheelchair singles and the men's wheelchairs doubles with Alfie Hewett, while Jordanne Whiley sealed victory in the ladies' wheelchair doubles.

"It was a very special two weeks for British tennis," Downey said.

"To know our players won five championships meant Britain was the best performing nation at Wimbledon.

"That is really special and makes it more special for people to be inspired."

Watson's victory alongside Finland's Henri Kontinen was particularly surprising after the 24-year-old had endured a disappointing exit in the first round of the singles.

Former British number one Anne Keothavong believes Watson's win can act as a catalyst for more singles success.

"It doesn't matter if its doubles or mixed doubles, winning helps your confidence," Keothavong said.

"Look at Elena Vesnina, she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals. She was ranked outside the top 100 at the start of the year, lost in the first round of qualifying at the Australian Open but won the mixed doubles there.

"Hopefully for Heather she will have gained plenty of confidence and that will help her singles."

Meanwhile, British junior Gabriella Taylor spent Sunday night in intensive care after falling ill with an unknown virus.

Taylor was forced to withdraw from her girls' quarter-final match at Wimbledon on Thursday morning and, according to the LTA, the 18-year-old "is in a stable condition and improving" at Southampton General Hospital.

Read the original article on Eurosport: LTA chief: We must capitalise on Andy Murray win to promote British tennis

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