Katie Swan and family put lockdown to good use as they organize care packages for vulnerable families

hannahwilks in News 28 Mar 2020
Katie Swan with her mother and brother (photo by Katie Swan)

Tennis player Katie Swan is using her newfound free time with tennis shutdown to help her family support underprivileged households.

Swan, who was born in Bristol and represents Great Britain but lives in Wichita, Kansas, has been helping her family organize care packages to be distributed to local families living in poverty.

The Swan family have turned their garage into a makeshift distribution centre, taking in deliveries of tinned foods, dry goods and other necessities and sorting them into care packages.

Swan’s mother Nicki works for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, a tax-exempt organization which mentors underprivileged children across the USA and 13 other countries.

Swan said:

‘She decided when this coronavirus started that she wanted to support those families with groceries they couldn’t get, either because they were too scared to go out or, having too many kids, could not leave them at the house. Some still have to work while their kids are not in school. She has been going to the supermarket pretty much every day for the past two weeks, buying loads of groceries.

‘I have been helping her get the care packages ready for delivery. The garage is packed. She told me [on Wednesday] they have sent out care packages to 70 families. Some of them have loads of kids, [including] a family of 15 who live in one house. She has also supported a 98-year-old man who cannot go to the grocery store. He loves my mum’s homemade banoffee pie. It’s the only thing he will eat.

‘The other day my mother had a phone call from a single mum, with her son. She is not very well and she was crying down the phone. It was very emotional and she was so grateful. People want to help. It’s a really good community.’

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the USA has now passed 100,000 – the first nation in the world to record that grim milestone.

Swan in action at Wimbledon in 2019 (PA Images)

A top junior who reached the final of the 2015 Australian Open junior singles, Swan reached a career-high ranking of world no. 163 in October 2018 and has won 7 ITF titles. She was signed to Andy Murray’s 77 Sports Management agency in 2018.

But she has struggled with injuries, including a stress fracture in her foot, and in May 2019 opened up on social media about feeling anxious and insecure and seeking the help of a sports psychologist.

Swan went 28-19 in 2019 and was 4-4 in 2020 before sport was shut down. She is currently ranked world no. 256.

Swan’s city is not currently under lockdown, so she is still able to spend some time training.

‘I go to the club to practise a couple of hours a day, then come home to do my fitness. They are not as strict where I live, but I am sure it is going to come. Over in Kansas City, a few hours from where we live, they have gone into lockdown.’

The ATP, WTA and ITF tours are currently completely suspended until 8 June at the earliest, with the French Open rescheduled to September and the Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021. A decision on whether or not Wimbledon will be cancelled – the organizers have ruled out postponing it or playing it behind closed doors – is expected in the next few days.

Swan said:

‘I know the WTA, ITF and ATP are working hard to do their best. Nobody could have predicted this. I have no idea how the system is going to change or if it will change.

‘I am trying to take all the positives out of this. I had my 21st birthday on Tuesday. I know it is a shame I cannot be playing tournaments, but it is a silver lining that I got to spend the time with my family.’