Marking what would have been the second week of The Championships, the AELTC is donating 70,000 Championships tennis balls and towels to the LTA for its ‘Play Your Way’ campaign as part of The Club’s contributions to the recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that also includes committing funding through the Wimbledon Foundation, its charitable arm, to help WaterAid in its mission to bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to all by 2030.
We are committed to using the collective strength of Wimbledon to provide help for those in need, and so we are pleased to be able to put the towels and balls which had been produced for this year's Championships to good use. Richard Lewis, Chief Executive, AELTC
The expanded commitment is an extension of the Wimbledon Foundation and WaterAid’s initial partnership, which began in 2018 with an annual donation of £100,000, and will increase to a total of £1.2 million awarded over the next three years.
While 30,000 Slazenger balls are heading to the LTA, the governing body of British tennis, smaller donations of tennis balls will be making their way to two charities supported by the Wimbledon Foundation.
These are the Youth Sport Trust, the Foundation’s national charity partner and deliverer of the ‘Set for Success’ programme for 14-16 year-olds, and ‘Regenerate’, a local charity which helps young people gain life and leadership skills.
Donations will also be made to the AELTC’s community tennis programmes, the All England Club Community Sports Ground in Raynes Park, and the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative, which takes tennis to schools in the neighbouring boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth.
This hopes to encourage people to get back on court and promote the sport, with balls being distributed by the LTA to registered coaches, clubs, parks and schools.
A total of 25,000 Championships towels will be given to charities and organisations, which are looking after the most vulnerable, including Crisis which is focusing on homelessness and housing people during the pandemic.
“We are committed to using the collective strength of Wimbledon to provide help for those in need, and so we are pleased to be able to put the towels and balls which had been produced for this year’s Championships to good use,” said Richard Lewis, chief executive of the AELTC.
“It was strongly felt that the bulk of the Championships balls should be directed to the LTA to help them encourage more people into the sport, while the Championships towels would be best donated to charities who are working to support society’s most vulnerable, those affected by homelessness and seeking basic household supplies.”
On top of the donations of the 2020 balls and towels, the Wimbledon Foundation’s £1.2 million ($1.51 million/€1.34 million) Coronavirus Fund continues to help the most vulnerable in society locally and nationally.
The AELTC has also been donating other Wimbledon supplies, including the grass court Grand Slam tournament’s famous strawberries.
Since May, more than £300,000 has been awarded to charities in the neighbouring London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth, to help with mental health challenges, food banks and homelessness.
“While the cancellation of this summer’s grass court events was a disappointment to so many people, we are delighted to be able to create something positive from it by supporting grassroots tennis,” LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said.
“Over the past few months we have done all we can to protect and support tennis from parks to elite level, and so we look forward to seeing these tennis balls and those from the LTA’s major events being put to good use by our registered venues and accredited coaches across the country.”
Wimbledon was due to start on June 29 this year and is the only one of the four 2020 Grand Slams to be cancelled, with the French Open rescheduled to start in September and the US Open tentatively set to start on 31 August as planned.
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, never has the role of good hygiene and hand-washing in maintaining infection prevention and control been more relevant and more important.
Across the world, however, 1 in 10 people live without clean water close by, while almost 1 in 4 have nowhere decent to go to the toilet at home.
WaterAid works with local partners in some of the world’s poorest countries to bring lasting solutions to communities, while also working with the government to influence policy and practice.
Since 2018, the partnership between WaterAid and the Wimbledon Foundation has helped to transform the lives of more than 125,000 people in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali and Nepal through access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.
Over the next three years, the partnership will focus on healthcare facilities where presently, in low and middle-income countries, one in three lacks clean water and one in four is without decent toilets.
This means health workers are unable to wash their hands, surgical equipment cannot be sterilised and mothers have to give birth in unsafe environments.
The Wimbledon Foundation’s support will enable WaterAid to transform healthcare facilities with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), helping communities to live healthier lives in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi and Myanmar.
The uplift in funding will also enable WaterAid to develop guidance and resources on WASH and infection prevention and control to ensure best practice is adhered to when access to WASH is being improved or implemented in healthcare facilities.
Helen Parker, Head of the Wimbledon Foundation, said: “The absence of clean water has a devastating impact on people’s health, education and ability to earn a living.
“In line with our goal to support healthy and active lives, we are proud to be extending our partnership with WaterAid to deliver this multifaceted approach to transforming healthcare facilities around the world to have a far-reaching impact on thousands of people’s lives.”
Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted just how important it is that everyone no matter where they live has clean water, somewhere to wash their hands with soap and a decent toilet.
“Now, more than ever, we must all scale up our efforts so that no-one misses out on a healthy future. WaterAid always works to create long term change in communities and knowing that we can count on the support of the Wimbledon Foundation for the next three years will help us bring more and more people out of poverty.”
The AELTC will continue to develop additional ways to provide support and to show its gratitude to those on the frontline throughout the course of 2020 and in the build-up to next year’s Championships, which will be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.