Wimbledon’s All England Lawn Tennis Club has found a new way of thanking essential workers for their extraordinary efforts during the Covid-19 crisis.
In an initiative called “Rally Together”, 80 staff from NHS hospitals, London Ambulance Service and Transport for London were invited to take part in tennis coaching on the hallowed courts, usually reserved for the likes of Andy Murray, Serena Willians and Roger Federer.
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, explained: “We wanted to find a way to say a heartfelt thank you, on behalf of the club, to those who have been on the front line of the coronavirus response, showing extraordinary dedication and selfless contribution. We hope that it will be an experience to remember for all involved.”
The scheme was developed by the club along with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who joined the training in his tennis whites. The Mayor said: “Londoners owe a debt of gratitude to every key worker who kept our city going during the darkest days of the pandemic.”
Coronavirus saw the Wimbledon Championships cancelled for the first time since World War 2. At the height of the pandemic, the club opened its kitchens to cook hundreds of meals for vulnerable residents of Merton and Wandsworth boroughs – as well as giving 2,600 punnets of strawberries to south west London NHS staff.
The club’s charity also donated £1.2 million to the capital’s coronavirus response and it has pledged to develop additional ways of showing gratitude to front line staff during the rest of the year and in the build-up to the 134th championships, to be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.
Read more about this story in the Evening Standard