Some of the off-court news from the first 3 days of The Wimbledon Championships.
Many world problems can be addressed through one solution: education. Why? Because knowing how to read makes people safer, healthier and more self-sufficient — yet over 750 million people are illiterate, and two thirds are women and girls... Education is everything and is a reliable journey for girls to reach their full potential. It will give them a better chance to have a better life, avoid early marriage and stay in school as long as possible. Garbiñe Muguruza
Defending Wimbledon champion Simona Halep was contacted by NHS Track and Trace just days after her withdrawal from The Championships because of her on-going calf issue and was forced to isolate.
The World No 3 was contacted on Monday about a positive Covid case on her flight to London, but had already returned to Romania.
Halep’s coach Darren Cahill tweeted: “Sitting in self isolation since Monday after NHS Track & Trace made our entire flight on the 21st to the UK close contacts to someone who tested Covid positive days later.
“4 negative tests in the last 8 days and fully vaccinated means zippo. Totally bummed.”
Had Halep still been in the draw, she would have been in the awkward position of having passed into the Wimbledon bubble and tested negative, while at the same time being instructed to isolate by the Government.
Whether she would have been forced to withdraw from the tournament is unclear, as there is no hard-and-fast rule for such an eventuality.
A Wimbledon spokeswoman said: “In such a situation, an individual risk assessment would be conducted, in conjunction with Public Health England.”
Kenin opts out of Tokyo
American Sofia Kenin will not compete at the Tokyo Olympics, she announced after her second-round loss at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
Kenin announced the news after she was knocked out of Wimbledon’s second round by fellow American Madison Brengle.
“Yeah, I’m not playing the Olympics. Yeah, that was a difficult decision, but I spoke and discussed that with my agents,” she told a news conference after the match on Wednesday. “I couldn’t take anyone with me, and I definitely wanted to have someone.
“Of course I love the Olympics. It was a tough one, like I said.”
Kenin said in February that she intended to compete in the Games and secured her spot on the team in May through her No 4 world ranking, which guaranteed her being one of the top 4 American women in the world.
She has since dropped to No 6 in the world rankings, two above Serena Williams at 8.
Williams, has 4 tennis gold medals to her name, also confirmed on Sunday that she will not play at the Olympics, saying ‘there’s a lot of reasons’ why she made that decision.
It seems Venus Williams will also miss the Olympic Games for the first time since 1996.
When asked about the playing in Tokyo, she responded: “I don’t think so.”
If Venus really wanted to play the Olympics in Tokyo, she probably could have found a way, but it appears that the 5-time Olympic medalist (four gold, one silver) has also opted out.
Instead, Coco Gauff and Jennifer Brady take centre stage on a US Olympic tennis team that is lacking some superstar power.
The list of players heading to Japan includes 17-year-old Gauff, 2021 Australian Open runner-up Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske for women’s singles, and Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron for men’s singles.
The Tokyo Games, scheduled to open on 23 July, were postponed a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, and COVID-19 cases are rising in the host city.
The ITF is expected to announce each country’s Summer Games entrants for the sport on Thursday.
Wimbledon does away with his and hers towels
Wimbledon has axed one of the last traditions that divided the sexes this year, the male and female towels.
In 2019 competitors in the gentlemen’s categories were offered two towels in the classic Wimbledon colours of green and purple, while contestants for the ladies’ titles were given pink-and-blue ‘seasonal towels’.
Organisers decided to end the practice this year by offering all players one of each type of towel after reviewing its traditions.
A Wimbledon source said they had dispensed with gendered towels so, on Monday Andy Murray was pictured walking around with both of them over his shoulder, one on each side.
“We were looking at tradition and wondering why it was a tradition. It’s one of the few sports where they are genuinely equal.”
Towels have been a feature of Wimbledon since at least the late 1970s, when the championships began its retail operation.
Wimbledon said that it expected to run out of towels in its gift shop this year because it had placed its order in the winter, when there was a more pessimistic view of how many people would be allowed to attend.
Wimbledon and WENEW partner to launch Andy Murray NFT
New NFT curator WENEW – launched by digital artist Mike Winkelmann – commonly known as Beeple – has partnered with Wimbledon and Sir Andy Murray for its inaugural auction.
Taking place from 2nd to 5th July 2021, WENEW’s first NFT auction will feature the moment when Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the first time in 2013, ending Britain’s 77-year wait for a male singles winner.
The moment is being put up for auction by Wimbledon and Murray together, and will see the highest bidder given ownership of Murray’s match-winning point.
That winner will also get to play tennis with Murray on a court at Wimbledon, as well as receiving a VIP behind-the-scenes tour, two tickets to Centre Court for the 2022 men’s Wimbledon finals, and signed souvenirs.
Fans can also purchase additional NFTs in larger editions of 20, 50, 100, and 500, starting at $49 and featuring Murray’s iconic trophy lift, his victory interview, his 2012 runner-up speech after defeat to Roger Federed, and a highlight reel of his best shots from Wimbledon 2013.
“We are so excited to be collaborating with Andy Murray and WENEW to bring to life such an iconic piece of Wimbledon history in NFT form,” said Alexandra Willis, The AELTC’s Communications and Marketing Director elect.
“Leveraging innovation to keep our traditions relevant is at the core of our marketing and brand strategy, and so we are delighted to be bringing about a first for tennis through the release of these wonderful moments.”
Murray added: “The Wimbledon Final in 2013 was such a big moment in my life.
“It was amazing to be able to share it with the British public, after so long without a male singles winner.
“I decided to work with WENEW and Wimbledon to turn this moment into an NFT so that fans can share in that memorable day.
“Working with the platform made sense given their focus on legacy. It’s a new and exciting space and one I am looking forward to being involved in.”
WENEW has also announced partnerships with a host of other cultural organisations and artists, including TIME Magazine, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, William Morris Endeavor, Skrillex, and Wasserman Media Group.
The first release, in partnership with Murray and Wimbledon was brokered by Endeavor.
The People’s Wimbledon: Memories and Memorabilia for the Lawn Tennis Championships
TIA UK’s Honorary Vice-President Richard Jones of The Tennis Gallery has just published a fantastic book for tennis fans, The People’s Wimbledon, which brings the magic of SW19 in words and pictures.
The book combines hundreds of stunning illustrations with memories and anecdotes from players, journalists, broadcasters and fans – from 1877 to the modern day. For a preview see click HERE.
CVC seek to entice both ATP and WTA Tours
According to reports, CVC Capital Partners is in talks to buy a stake in a proposed new entity that combines the men’s and women’s tennis tours.
‘OneTennis’ would unify the ATP Tour and WTA Tour under one organisation, with CVC taking a minority shareholding in the new commercial vehicle.
A proposed merger to form OneTennis would promise to create more commercial opportunities for the sport.
The Grand Slams however are not affected by this proposal.
Muguruza teams up with Room to Read
Through her partnerships and fundraising, Garbiñe Muguruza has helped build a new library for the Banlech Prasat Primary School in the Prey Veng Province in Cambodia.
The former World No 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion works as an ambassador for Room to Read since 2016, which focuses on literacy and gender equality in education.
For more information on the organisation or to donate, visit www.roomtoread.org.
Reading is a privilege, one that Muguruza hopes to extend to young girls in underserved communities.
“Many world problems can be addressed through one solution: education,” Muguruza said. “Why? Because knowing how to read makes people safer, healthier and more self-sufficient — yet over 750 million people are illiterate, and two thirds are women and girls.
“Education is everything and is a reliable journey for girls to reach their full potential. It will give them a better chance to have a better life, avoid early marriage and stay in school as long as possible.”
Barty’s tribute to Goolagong
Ash Barty is wearing a special FILA outfit in tribute to Evonne Goolagong on the 50th anniversary of the Australian’s first Wimbledon triumph.
“It’s a really special anniversary for a lot of Australians, but for indigenous Australians in particular I think this is a really special one,” the World No 1 told reporters at Wimbledon. “For me to be able to wear an outfit inspired by Evonne’s iconic scallop dress is really amazing.”
Goolagong has been a mentor for Barty as she has made her way to the top of the rankings and become a Grand Slam champion, winning the French Open in 2019.
Barty said she had checked with Goolagong before agreeing to wear the FILA kit.
“Before we had put in the process of creating my version of her iconic dress, I wanted to make sure she was OK,” she said. “Called her and asked her. She was really excited.
“I think for me, that made me feel a lot more comfortable knowing her favourite dress, probably her most iconic dress, is something that inspired me and inspired our generation of indigenous youth.
“I hope that my version of it, my outfit, can do the same for the next generation of indigenous youth coming forward.”
Barty said Goolagong has been an inspiration to her and all Australian players for more than a generation.
“Evonne has guided the way,” she said. “She’s created a path for all of us as Australians, but as a family and for our heritage to know that there is an opportunity to chase after your dreams and to do what you love. She’s created a legacy like no other in Australia.
“I think I’m exceptionally proud to be able to call her a friend and a mentor, to be able to share heritage.
“For me to be able to pay tribute to that on a really special anniversary is something that I’ll never forget.”
AELTC leases Bank of England Sports Centre
The AELTC has confirmed that it has successfully concluded an agreement with the Bank of England to acquire the lease of the Bank’s Sports Centre in Roehampton for a 15-year period, with a break clause after 10 years, which will be known as the AELTC Community Sports Ground, Roehampton.
This lease agreement will enable the Club to have direct control over the land where the Qualifying Competition takes place until such time that the tournament can be moved to the AELTC Grounds as part of the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project.
It will also enable the improvement of the Qualifying Competition and practice experience in the interim period.
Alongside this sits the aspiration, in the short term, to maintain the use of the facilities and pitches at the Ground for the benefit of the local community.
The AELTC is keen to establish relationships with all the community sports groups who normally use the Ground to understand their usage patterns, with a view to longer term maximising the community use opportunities presented, while being successfully integrated into the staging of the Qualifying Competition and other grass court tournaments.
The decision to mothball the swimming pool structure, however, has already been taken and therefore it will no longer be available for community use.
Based on this decision, the AELTC will also not be operating a private members’ sports club at the Ground, but is looking forward to speaking to the various community sports groups in the coming weeks.
‘Thank You Day’ to capitalise on Wimbledon buzz
The LTA, the governing body for tennis in Britain, and the AELTC will celebrate national ‘Thank You Day’ on Sunday 4 July by staging ‘Middle Sunday Opened Up’, a free tennis activity on the public tennis courts in Wimbledon Park.
The event, which will take place on the Middle Sunday of The Championships, aims to use tennis to bring the local community in Merton and Wandsworth together, supporting the LTA’s vision to open up the sport and its benefits to many more people, and capitalising on the buzz generated by the first week of Wimbledon.
The free event will run from 9am – 5pm, and will provide fun, informal and inclusive opportunities for anyone to pick up a racket and have fun playing tennis.
The day’s activities will include sessions for all levels and for both children and adults, provided by a combination of coaches from the LTA, the local community, and the AELTC’s Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative, which introduces tennis to children in schools across Merton and Wandsworth throughout the year.
There will also be a special guest appearance from LTA Head of Men’s Tennis and Great Britain’s Davis Cup Captain, Leon Smith.
“After the challenging period that everyone has experienced, with restrictions on activities and initiatives such as this one, we’re delighted to be able to work together with the AELTC to put on the Middle Sunday Opened Up event once again this year,” said Scott Lloyd, LTA Chief Executive. “Tennis is a sport for everyone, this being a real showcase of that, and we hope it plays a small part in helping the nation to say thank you.
“Park tennis courts across the country are vital to keeping communities healthy and active, and so fantastic facilities like Wimbledon Park are integral to our work to open up tennis to more people. I am really looking forward to once again being part of the day and joining local residents on court.”
As part of Thank You Day, grass roots sports clubs and tennis fans across the country are also being encouraged to get involved and make it a day when sport helps bring communities together, and provide an opportunity to celebrate and thank all those who make it possible to provide services that have supported the community over the last 18 months.
Over 16 million Brits are planning to take part in what is the country’s first ever national thank you day by joining events in their local communities by doing anything from picnics to BBQ’s, or street parties to tennis festivals and park runs.
From the idea being launched just a month ago, the campaign has won huge support from hundreds of organisations ranging from the NHS to the Scouts and from high profile individuals including Gary Lineker, Michael Sheen, Dame Judi Dench, Raheem Sterling and many more.
Anyone from the local Merton and Wandsworth community wanting to book a free place on one of the activity sessions at the Middle Sunday Opened Up event can do so via middlesunday.org, or to find out more about Thank You Day visit thankyouday.org.uk.