Elijah Ortiz-Herrera, aged 11, from South London, today takes to the Centre Court for the historic Gentlemen’s Singles Final in which Andy Murray strives to be the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry and Roger Federer aims to equal Pete Sampras’s record haul of seven Wimbledon titles. Elijah, who is representing Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, has an influence on the proceedings – as official coin toss performer.
Make-A-Wish is the charity which grants magical wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions. Since being established in the UK in 1986, the Foundation has granted more than 7,800 wishes.
Elijah is living with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, having been diagnosed in February 2010. He currently has a blood test every Monday, chemotherapy once a month and lumbar punctures every three months.
He first started watching tennis four years ago and loves playing, but his physical stamina has reduced since having treatment. He has never been to Wimbledon, so when he found out he was going to be performing the coin toss for the Men’s Singles Final, his mother Catherine said: “Elijah was very excited, happy and overwhelmed. He is now just as excited but also feeling a little bit nervous about Sunday. Rafa Nadal is Elijah’s favourite tennis player but as he has been knocked out, he would now like to see Andy Murray in the final.”
Make-A-Wish accepts referrals for potential wish children from parents or guardians, medical professionals – or even the children themselves. A child needs to be aged between 3 and 17 and fighting a life-threatening condition.
Elijah will be assisted in his on-court duties by Andrew Jarrett, Championships’ Referee, and the Chair Umpire. After the formalities, he will watch the match with his family, and their day includes lunch and tea in the Competitors’ Restaurant.