A padel tennis company backed by Andy Murray is to open three courts at one of London’s biggest shopping centres
The largest retail venue in Europe will soon be home to one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, as the padel phenomenon comes to Westfield London.
Westfield has agreed a 10-year lease deal with Game4Padel, which counts Andy Murray among its investors. The company is behind a UK-wide network of playing facilities for padel, the tennis/squash hybrid game that already boasts six million players in Spain and is rapidly gaining popularity across the UK, continental Europe and the rest of the world.
Game4Padel plans to build three permanent padel courts – two covered and one open show court – at Westfield London, which had a pre-Covid annual footfall of around 31 million people.
The deal also includes Game4Padel installing two additional ‘pop-up’ padel courts, one to coincide with the launch of padel in The Atrium, the main indoor event and entertainment space with pre-Covid footfall of 750,000 people each week, and one next summer at Westfield Square, the outdoor event space which is surrounded by restaurants and leisure outlets.
Padel is a form of tennis that is fun, easy to play, and sociable given that it is played with four players in a glass-enclosed court about one-third of the size of a tennis court. The rules are broadly similar to tennis – although players serve underarm, making it easier to play – and the walls are used as part of the game. It can be played in groups of mixed ages and abilities, as tactics and subtlety are as important as power.
In addition to former tennis world number one siblings Sir Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, other celebrity padel devotees include Rafael Nadal, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. There are currently 100 courts around Britain, but the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which is the governing body for padel in the UK, has forecast 400% growth in the number of courts by 2023.
Game4Padel already operates more padel venues than any other UK provider and plans to be the dominant player in the fastest growing sport in the country. The agreement with Westfield London is Game4Padel’s first with a retail and leisure operator and the company will ensure access to the courts will be easy to arrange by operating a user-friendly online booking and payment system. The company is also in advanced discussions with more than 30 other sites – two of which are major retail centres in other large British cities – which it anticipates will add more than 50 additional courts to its existing five venues.