Every detail of today’s match will be etched on the memory of the player who wins the right to hold the trophy aloft – and that includes the sight of 11-year-old Pinki Sonkar, from India, who performed the coin toss to decide who serves first at this year’s gentlemen’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Pinki represents Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft lip and palate charity. Nominated by John Dunningham, a vice-president of the All England Club, Smile Train provides free cleft surgery and comprehensive care to hundreds of thousands of poor children in developing countries and trains doctors and medical professionals in more than 80 countries.
Pinki was born with a severe cleft. Not allowed to attend school, she was tormented by other children and faced a long and difficult life filled with pain and heartache. In 2007, Pinki and her father went on foot to Benares, India, to a Smile Train partner hospital where Pinki received free life-changing cleft repair surgery, giving her a new smile and a second chance at life.
Her story was captured in the Oscar-winning documentary short film, Smile Pinki, and her story has become an inspiration and hope to others born with cleft.
She has travelled to London via New York where she attended a special celebration of Wimbledon in Madison Square Park. Speaking about the charity and her role in performing the coin toss, Pinki said: “Before my operation, I didn’t want to go to school and felt sad a lot of the time. Now, I go to school every day and have lots of friends. Smile Train has made me happy. I am very excited to be going to Wimbledon and doing the coin toss in front of so many people. I have been practising lots!”
Pinki is assisted in her on-court duties by Andrew Jarrett, Championships’ Referee, Mohamed Lahyani the Chair Umpire and Dr Subodh Kumar Singh, who performed Pinki’s surgery. After the formalities, she and Dr Singh will watch the match and their day includes lunch and tea in the Competitors’ Restaurant.