The middle Saturday of Wimbledon usually coincides with national Armed Forces Day and this year is no exception. Today we salute personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, cadets, reservists and veterans.
The Armed Forces have a long-standing relationship with The Championships. There have been honorary Service stewards at Wimbledon since 1946, when the tournament organisers asked members of the Armed Forces who were being demobilised after World War II to act as attendants. They have been back every year since, often volunteering to spend two weeks of their leave manning walkways, stairs and seating areas, ensuring the general safety and well-being of the visitors as well as contributing to the atmosphere of a sporting event run as an immaculately precise operation.
The Club is also a long-standing supporter of the Lest We Forget and Not Forgotten Associations – charities which offer entertainment and leisure outings to wounded, injured or sick serving and former members of the Armed Forces and for ex-service men and women with disabilities. On Centre Court for the first 11 days and on No. 1 Court for the first five days of each week, 16 seats per day are allocated between the Associations, whose members include Chelsea Pensioners.
An official statement from the All England Lawn Tennis Club confirms: ‘The close relationship between Wimbledon and the Armed Forces goes back more than 60 years since they helped re-establish The Championships after World War II. Since then the Club has been privileged to be associated with the men and women who form our volunteer Service stewards and we offer our wholehearted thanks for their magnificent contribution both at Wimbledon and for the nation. The nation owes the Armed Forces community a huge amount and Wimbledon is proud to be supporting Armed Forces Day.’