The sun returned to SW19 today and it certainly was an historic day within the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club with the inaugural draw for the wheelchair tennis singles event taking place ten years on from the sport’s inclusion at The Championships as a doubles competition.
It seems particularly apt in 2016 as we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the inception of the sport thanks to visionary American, Brad Parkes. And it was pretty special with players being present at a Wimbledon draw for the very first time with stars Jordanne Whiley and Gordon Reid on hand to make sure all went smoothly. With both British No.1s facing tough opposition in compatriot Lucy Shuker and Frenchman Nicolas Peifer in their first matches, they may have hoped for an easier start in their quest to go down in the history books as the first wheelchair players to win the coveted crown of Wimbledon singles champion.
But if there’s one thing Tennis Foundation Head of Performance Geraint Richards has drilled into his players, it’s to feel confident in your ability whoever your facing and have no fear of failure.
While many will be focussing only on the results come finals day on Saturday and Sunday, we at the Tennis Foundation know what great role models our performance programme players are by inspiring people of all abilities to give tennis a go.
Take Louise Hunt, who has been awarded a wild card into Wimbledon to compete on the grass courts for the second year running, and her involvement in our mentoring programme with our friends at the Youth Sport Trust – Beyond the Baseline. Louise has taken time out of her very busy schedule competing on the international wheelchair tennis tour to adopt some schools in her local area and talk to pupils about the challenges she’s overcome both in her professional and personal life.
She spends time with them off court teaching them about key life skills before having fun and keeping healthy with the youngsters in some tennis sessions. The results have been extraordinary with schools reporting improvements in attendance, academic achievement and overall mental well being.
Finally, on a lighter note, we’ve teamed up with an up and coming MC, who goes by the name of MC Dabbla (we’re totally down with the kids at the TF), to provide some alternative commentary on each day’s highlights at Wimbledon and he’s been going down a storm on social media with his ‘unique’ insight and hilarious take on events in South West London. Make sure you check him out via our Facebook page.
From Holly Hamilton, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Tennis Foundation.