May 14, 2020
Wimbledon is showing its true colours.
We’re not talking about the famous all-white kit worn by the players.
We’re not even referring to the beautiful violet-and-green colours of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.
They say your true colours come out in a crisis.
In this case you might say it’s all the colours of the rainbow. That’s the symbol of hope here during these times of trouble. And Wimbledon is now providing hope for so many.
In fact Wimbledon is fast proving there is no more caring Grand Slam tennis event out there.
Just for once, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club can’t put on the greatest sporting show on earth this summer. But they have been busy behind the scenes.
Their mission is to make sure their financial and organisational power is a force for good during the coronavirus crisis.
The deep thought Wimbledon has put into how they can help is phenomenal.
Ian Hewitt, the AELTC Chairman, explained Wimbledon’s positive thinking.
He said: ‘As we navigate a year without a Championships, our highest priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of all those who make Wimbledon happen and those for whom the pandemic has caused suffering and loss.
‘We strongly believe that Wimbledon has the responsibility and capacity to act as a force for good, using our resources to help those in need, particularly in a crisis such as this.’
These aren’t just fine words. They have translated into inspirational actions.
Hewitt added: ‘We have worked hard to develop a wide-ranging series of measures to provide the help that we can to those in our local and regional communities who are most affected as we begin the period of recovery, which we recognise is going to cause hardship for many for some time.
‘We continue to be humbled by the passion shown for Wimbledon by fans all around the world since our cancellation announcement. We look forward to a time when we will be able to come together again.’
We’re all waiting eagerly for summer 2021 to come round. We all share that passion. A love for Wimbledon that will never die.
In the mean time people need to be looked after.
Wimbledon is already thinking about the people who will make the 2021 event so special.
Of course they are the same people who would have made this year’s tournament so great under normal circumstances.
It’s not their fault the Championships can’t be played until next summer.
So the AELTC is contributing to the international Player Relief Programme. That will help ensure the less celebrated players can stay in our beloved sport.
It is also contributing to the St John Ambulance Emergency Appeal. We shouldn’t forget the uniformed medics who help people who faint or fall ill in the Wimbledon sun.
In fact 2020 would have been St John Ambulance’s 103rd Championships!
Maybe nothing reflects Wimbledon’s extraordinary history better than that.
Of course the AELTC hasn’t forgotten its own employees. Partners and suppliers have also been considered. Wimbledon doesn’t want to see any of their allies in financial crisis. It is doing everything it can to prevent that from happening.
Perhaps most heart-warming of all is the way the AELTC has created a £1.2 million fund for the Wimbledon Foundation.
That will help support society’s most vulnerable people.
The homeless will benefit from this initiative both locally and throughout the capital. So will those suffering mental ill-health. The British Red Cross will receive support nationally.
But it is the direct interaction happening with the local community that is so moving an admirable.
An AELTC kitchen has been opened to prepare 200 meals per day for the next three months.
Those meals will be taken from the venue out into the local community in Merton amd Wandsworth. They will feed those most in need.
It is a fantastic gesture from a club. But the caring initiatives don’t stop there. Toiletries and care bags are being made up for the homeless and those in two local hospitals. AELTC staff have even been loaned out to support the local community.
Donations to St George’s Hospital Charity, the London Ambulance Service and Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon have been made.
Local ambulance crews can use the club’s parking and toilet facilities when they need a well-earned break.
Wimbledon hasn’t forgotten the fans either. They are creating as much online content as possible to entertain you while there is precious little live tennis on offer.
There’s no doubt about it. Cometh the hour, cometh the club. Bravo Wimbledon! You have stepped up in magnificent style.