Deborah Jevans, CBE, who took over as Chair of the All England Lawn Tennis Club from Ian Hewitt after The Championships this summer, wrote a letter to local residents about the Wimbledon Park Project expansion plans, approved by Merton Council but currently blocked by Wandsworth Council, and under review by the Mayor of London.
The Community Newsletter can be read by clicking HERE.
We appreciate that there are some who don’t support our plans, but I know that if we do not look to the future, we will not only fall behind as the crowning event in world tennis, but fail to grasp the wealth of social, environmental and economic benefits on offer to the whole of London. Deborah Jevans CBE, Chair AELTC
This week, Jevans has offered her opinion to the media, saying: “It is more than a century since tennis was first played on Centre Court and since then Wimbledon has grown to be at the pinnacle of world sport. However, we can’t rest on our laurels, as in that time other events have evolved too. We are now the only Grand Slam that doesn’t host its qualifying competition on the same site as its main tournament.
“Currently our qualifying competition takes place on what is ordinarily a cricket outfield at a rented site in Roehampton. This is understandably viewed by the world’s best players as a significant weakness.
“Space limitations on our site also mean that there is not enough room to accommodate the increasingly complex range of facilities and services required. Many of the world’s best tennis players are having to share practice courts which affects their preparation, and there is no doubt that failing to address these issues will prove detrimental to our long-term success.
“With the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project we have a golden opportunity to address these issues and secure the long-term future of the Championships while importantly delivering year-round benefits for all Londoners.
“We will ensure that this new open green space benefits nature with a significant boost to biodiversity
“Seizing this moment matters. As the director of sport for the 2012 Olympic Games, now more than a decade ago, I saw first-hand the wide-reaching positive impact that can be achieved locally, regionally, and nationally by working in partnership to achieve something really special. This was demonstrated by how the games transformed a derelict area of London into the Queen Elizabeth Park that now is enjoyed by thousands of people.
“As the new Chair of the All England Club, I want to work with our neighbours — and Londoners more broadly — to once again deliver long-lasting benefits for generations to come.
“In looking to ensure that the Championships remain one of the world’s most cherished sporting events, we have designed a programme of development that not only provides players and guests with world-class facilities but will also dramatically improve leisure amenities in the local area.
“The new public parkland that we will create will provide permanent access to 23 acres of green space that was formerly a private members’ golf course for more than 100 years and inaccessible to anyone other than those who paid a green fee. We’re also offering public use of at least seven of our championships courts following the conclusion of the tournament. A boardwalk around Wimbledon Park lake and £15 million worth of enhancements to the existing Wimbledon Park will see a thriving space for Londoners to enjoy. We will ensure that this new open green space benefits nature with a significant boost to biodiversity and 1,500 new trees of varying ages and sizes planted.
“But these proposals are not only important to us. A recent poll by YouGov found that five times as many Londoners support Wimbledon’s expansion as opposed to those who are against it. And the main reason for their support, cited by half of those surveyed, is the economic boost to local businesses and new jobs, paid at least the London Living Wage, that the plans will deliver.
“These views are well founded as even in its current format, The Championships is the greatest contributor to the UK economy of any annual event in the sporting calendar.
“But it has the potential to deliver so much more. If our expansion plans are approved, by 2031 the total UK-wide economic activity figure is expected to increase by almost a third to £480million and the projected annual benefit to London will be £296 million.
“Beyond the big numbers, the economic benefits will be tangible as our plans will create over 250 new jobs for the Championships, and hundreds more people will be employed throughout construction.
“And yet, for us, our proposals are not about making money. As a not-for-profit organisation, 90 per cent of the profits from the Championships goes to the Lawn Tennis Association, breathing new life into grassroots tennis and facilities across the whole country.
“We appreciate that there are some who don’t support our plans, but I know that if we do not look to the future, we will not only fall behind as the crowning event in world tennis, but fail to grasp the wealth of social, environmental and economic benefits on offer to the whole of London.”
Deborah Jevans CBE