British tennis star Laura Robson celebrated the 'Play Your Way to Wimbledon' event for inspiring more junior players to continue their tennis journey last week writes Megan Armitage.
Robson took to the globally known lawns on SW19 to talk to over one hundred junior tennis players at the national finals of the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK.
A member of Wimbledon herself, Robson won silver medal in mixed doubles with Andy Murray at the London 2012 Olympic Games before becoming the first British woman since 1990 to reach at WTA final at the Guangzhou Women's Open later that year.
And the former world number 27 returned to where it all started on the courts on Wimbledon to reminisce on her time as a junior after retiring from the sport earlier in the year.
She said: "Looking around at all the kids that have been here, they're just so pumped to be here and parents as well are getting them to take pictures in front of all the signs and they're just buzzing.
"I remember having that feeling myself when I first came here and I think I was like 11 and played an exhibition on the middle Saturday and it rained the whole day so we didn't get on court but it was just the best day ever.
Our courts are back in business 🙏
This week, talented players from across the country are competing in the finals of Play Your Way to Wimbledon - our grass roots tennis event powered by @VodafoneUK 🌱 pic.twitter.com/AC0wVdmh6K
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) August 8, 2022
"I saw all the names of the people who had won it before and it was during the tournament so I got to stalk as many people as possible around the practice courts and take as many photos as possible.
"It's just got that feeling about it Wimbledon, that you don't really get over it.
"I had that chance to play on the grass when I was 11 and 12 and from then on it was my favourite surface, this is where I want to do well, I want to be back at Wimbledon and that was that."
Formerly known as the Road to Wimbledon, the competition launched in March and is delivered in partnership by the LTA, The All England Lawn Tennis Club, and Vodafone.
This year’s tournament will deliver over 10,000 playing opportunities across singles and doubles competitions in 800 venues.
Robson hoped that the increasing focus on junior players in Britain through events such as 'Play Your Way to Wimbledon' will help encourage the newest generation of tennis players to evolve.
She said: "Looking over the last ten year as other countries who have done so well, Italy and France who have loads of people in the top 100, this is what they do.
"I remember playing an under-12 event in France that had 2,000 people show up for the final to watch because it was a community and the town got involved.
"So I think to have this, to have all these people coming to watch and have the parents get to see how everyone is playing around the country, it just means that they are way more likely to carry on with tennis.
"I think the LTA's really trying to get more courts in play, more kids involved and just make it way easier for people to take up tennis and then continue to play."
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 visitwimbledon.com