HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), yesterday visited Bond Primary School in Mitchum to see the work of the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative (WJTI), the AELTC’s local community coaching programme.
Supported by the Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of The All England Club and The Championships, the WJTI has introduced over 195,000 children in Merton and Wandsworth to their first hit of a tennis ball, and visits 65 primary schools per year, inviting children who show particular promise to attend weekly and weekend training sessions at The All England Club.
During her visit, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge had the opportunity to participate in some of the WJTI’s regular drills, which aim to introduce young people to tennis, while also encouraging them to learn how participation in sport can help development important life skills and values, such as teamwork, discipline and fairness.
Addressing the school children, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge commented: “A big thank you, I have loved playing with you all this afternoon. I love tennis, I think it’s a great sport, so keep it up, and it’s been a real pleasure to meet all of you.”
“It was a huge pleasure to welcome Her Royal Highness to our school,” added Mrs Despo Stevens, Head Teacher at Bond Primary School. “We so enjoy having the visits from the WJTI, and being active and fit is a very important message for our children.”
“We are extremely proud of the role that the WJTI plays in the local community, and would like to thank Mrs Stevens, the teachers and the children for allowing us to invade your lessons today”, commented Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club. “We are honoured by the support HRH The Duchess of Cambridge continues to show for Wimbledon, and we are glad to be able to share with her some of the work we do outside of The Championships.”
Over and above its support of the WJTI, the Wimbledon Foundation has donated over £1 million to over 100 local charities and organisations since it was established in 2013, and seeks to enhance the opportunities for meaningful change in the lives of the AELTC’s local communities.
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge became Patron of The All England Club in January 2017, having taken over the role from Her Majesty The Queen. During The Championships 2017, Her Royal Highness had the opportunity to meet Wimbledon Ball Boys and Girls, alongside key members of the armed forces and security and ambulance services.