Watch the full interview with England cricketer Lauren and Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Courtney in ‘Meet The Winfield-Hills’, which will be broadcast on Sky Sports Arena at 4.15pm on Monday, December 6
By Jenna Brooks and Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 04/12/21 4:08pm
Every marriage comes with its challenges, but there are perhaps few which face the same as the one which can crop up from time to time between Lauren and Courtney Winfield-Hill.
As well as being a sporting power couple – Lauren a Cricket World Cup-winning batter for the England Women and Courtney the 2019 rugby league Woman of Steel with Leeds Rhinos – the pair spend plenty of time working together at the Northern Diamonds.
Courtney, who enjoyed a successful career as a seam bowler in her native Australia before moving to England three years ago and returning to her first sporting love of rugby league, combines playing for the Rhinos with being on the coaching staff of the Leeds-based Diamonds.
That, of course, includes working with her spouse, and while it has taken some getting used to for both, the 34-year-old is savouring the opportunity to help Lauren excel in her career.
“There’s something really special about seeing your partner in a space that they’re most passionate about,” Courtney told Sky Sports. “And the fact that you can help them – yeah, it’s really quite special.”
That dynamic was just one of the areas covered by the couple in the documentary Meet The Winfield-Hills, which will be shown on Sky Sports Arena at 4.15pm on Monday, December 6 ahead of this year’s Rainbow Laces Day.
The pair have been together since 2016 after meeting as team-mates at Women’s Big Bash League side Brisbane Heat, eventually marrying in Australia in March 2020 just a week before the country was plunged into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I think it’s hugely important just to remind people that you are welcome.
Courtney Winfield-Hill on the Rainbow Laces campaign
And Lauren makes no secret of how making their relationship public on the back of getting married felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
“It wasn’t really until we got married, where we were sort of public and officially out, I suppose,” the 31-year-old said. “I don’t mind, and you don’t want to hide.
“You don’t have to go to events and people be like ‘Oh, who’s your partner? Who’s your boyfriend?’.
“I’ve always been really upfront with my friends and family. But that was always a piece that I think I just kept my cards close to my chest with that.”
Fresh look for Rainbow Laces as call to action goes out across sport
‘Lace Up and Speak Up’ is the key message for this year’s annual activation of the Rainbow Laces campaign for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport.
Although both the cricket and rugby league seasons fall outside of Rainbow Laces Day, which is marked on Wednesday, December 8 this year, both sports showed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community by holding their own Rainbow Laces rounds during their respective 2021 seasons.
The fact both their sports are working to create a welcoming environment means a lot to the Winfield-Hills, although Courtney admitted she had her own concerns – which ultimately proved unfounded – about what the reaction beyond that sphere would be when she revealed she was in a same-sex relationship.
“I wasn’t excluded, but the experience of others made me feel like I was going to be,” Courtney said. “It kind of put in the back of your mind ‘I’m about to talk with family and friends about this; Am I going to experience difficult conversations? Be feeling excluded?’
“Sometimes you make up these narratives in your own head, but it was actually the complete opposite. I was at a place where I was comfortable and if I was comfortable with that, then I wasn’t really worried if others weren’t.
I think it’s much more powerful when you can have that human side of it, to be looking up to people who are familiar and who are similar to you.
Lauren Winfield-Hill on the Rainbow Laces campaign
“These campaigns like Rainbow Laces are hugely important so that people do feel a sense of community and a safe community for them – a sense of belonging. I think it’s hugely important just to remind people that you are welcome.”
As well as that, Lauren hopes athletes like her and her wife being in the spotlight will show younger people they can get to the top of their chosen sport and be accepted.
“They want to connect with people who are like them,” Lauren said. “I never had that when I was a kid and I think it’s much more powerful when you can have that human side of it, to be looking up to people who are familiar and who are similar to you.”
Watch the full interview with Lauren and Courtney in ‘Meet The Winfield-Hills’ on Sky Sports Arena at 4.15pm and Sky Sports Cricket at 11.30pm on Monday, December 6.