This is a time of year that tennis fans traditionally look forward to as one of the most revered Grand Slam tournaments in the world would normally be set to name new champs.
But Wimbledon, like so many major events in 2020, has been scrapped.
However, thanks to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, a group of tennis hopefuls from Bond Primary School in South London had the chance to see a Wimbledon champion after all — two-time winner Andy Murray.
The former Kate Middleton, who serves as patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, recently joined the students via video call.
Kensington Palace said in a statement that the duchess reached out to the kids at the end of their tennis lesson with an All England tennis club coach "to speak to them about their experiences of lockdown, the benefits of physical activity, and their tennis progress since Her Royal Highness last visited (in 2018).”
And after that part of the chat, she told them the surprise she had in store.
“Now, because you’re such keen tennis fans, I’ve got a very important person that’s going to come and join us,” she announced to the group mid-call, just before giving them a few clues about who was waiting to meet them.
“He plays tennis for Great Britain,” she teased. “He’s a two-time Olympic champion. He’s a former world No. 1 …”
And with that, the kids were quick to guess Murray moments before he appeared on their screen, and then it was on to the questions.
One child wondered why he picked tennis as a career, to which the 33-year-old said, “It was one of the few things I was good at, really. But I did it because I enjoyed it, and I have fun doing it. So, I’ve been very lucky.”
Another young tennis enthusiast wondered how old the athlete was when he first hit the court.
“I would have been about 7,” Murray answered, though he admitted, “I didn’t really know the rules or how to keep score at that age.”
The tennis program the students participate in is a part of the Wimbledon Foundation’s mission to improve the well-being of children through sports, and highlighting it is one way the duchess was able to help our with this year’s Wimbledon Fortnight efforts.
While the games are on hold, the club has focused on keeping tennis in the spotlight during the two weeks the tournament would normally take place with “Wimbledon Recreated.”