British tennis star Tim Henman believes Play Your Way to Wimbledon provides a vital opportunity for young children to get involved in the sport.
Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, has seen thousands of children aged 11-18 take part in singles and doubles competitions across the UK with the chance to play on grass at The All England Lawn Tennis Club from 7-13 August.
Previously known as ‘Road to Wimbledon,’ the likes of Emma Raducanu have come through the competition which is designed to encourage children to get active and fulfill their tennis dreams.
And Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist, believes that this is the perfect opportunity to highlight the benefits of tennis and make the sport accessible for all.
He said: “Play Your Way to Wimbledon is a massively exciting opportunity to really encourage youngsters to get involved in the game. We’ve had 10,000 children playing locally, then we will have some moving through regionally and the best ones coming to Wimbledon for the finals.
“I think that’s where accessibility and opportunity are so important in terms of not only tennis, but the world we’ve lived in over the last two years. It’s been massively challenging. I think this is a great opportunity and something I’m really excited to be a part of.
“I would always say to young kids to dream big, reach for the stars. In terms of Play Your Way to Wimbledon, I would say this is much more about accessibility and opportunity.
“It’s really using the amazing attributes tennis has as a happy, healthy, outdoor activity, something that’s a great way to meet people, and to learn how to compete and how to have fun. In that respect it’s win-win across the board.”
Events all across the country took place towards the end of a Wimbledon that has been one of the most successful in recent years for British players.
Cameron Norrie made his first Grand Slam semi-final while ten players reached the second round, the most since 1984.
And Henman believes that having such role models will encourage all of those who took part in Play Your Way to Wimbledon.
He added: “There’s a real buzz around British tennis right now and I think that’s led on the performance side of things.
With the women with Raducanu and with the men with Cam, Dan [Evans] and Andy [Murray] being back, that’s always going to be an important role model for the sport at grassroots level.”
Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, is a junior tournament that gives players an opportunity to follow in their heroes’ footsteps and compete on the grass courts at Wimbledon. The All England Club and LTA are proud to partner with Vodafone to relaunch and expand the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK – for more information visit wimbledon.com .