With Wimbledon back on the British sporting calendar in 2021, a whole new generation could be inspired by the efforts of Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray over the past week.
And on the tournament's final ever Middle Sunday, dozens of children were given the unique opportunity to try the sport with a special event organised by the LTA and All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) on the public tennis courts at Wimbledon Park.
Held as part of ‘Thank You Day', a special date designed to celebrate the efforts of volunteers during the pandemic and bring communities together, the initiative provided an opportunity for children and adults of all ages and abilities to pick up a racket.
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Sessions from the LTA Youth programme were held for children who attended, with adults enjoying sessions such as cardio tennis. LTA Youth is the governing body's junior programme created to help more children enjoy the benefits of playing and staying in tennis, whatever their age, gender, ability, disability or background.
The event aimed to bring people from Merton and Wandsworth together and open up tennis to a wider fanbase, highlighting the benefits of the sport and celebrating the enthusiasm generated by the opening week at the All England Club.
The Wimbledon Park courts that will host the event are operated on behalf of Merton Council by Idverde, with the event providing a showcase of the courts for the local community. The LTA has been working in partnership with Idverde over the past few years to help improve the facilities and increase use of them as part of a national programme of support the LTA is delivering to drive more tennis play in parks across the country.
And Scott Lloyd, LTA Chief Executive, said: "It's fantastic to have so many children here enjoying playing tennis through sessions from our LTA Youth programme.
"We're very pleased to be working with the AELTC to put on this event in Wimbledon Park once again.
"This has been a perfect example of how tennis is a sport for everyone and has demonstrated how vital public park courts are to our work to open tennis up to more people, and I've really enjoyed being on court with everyone this morning."
And there was also a special appearance from Davis Cup Captain and LTA's Head of Men's Tennis Leon Smith.
The event was first staged in 2019, but was cancelled in 2020 owing to Covid-19 and was held with social distancing guidelines in place.
Cheryl Moranti, who brought her seven-year-old daughter Aaliyah to the event, was one of those delighted that the opportunity to get involved with the sport was provided over the weekend.
And she said: "To have this on our doorstep is fantastic and having the Wimbledon Championships going on as well is a great way to inspire children to play.
"Tennis is about more than just hitting a ball - it is teaching these kids lots of different skills and this is an amazing opportunity.
"My daughter has had a brilliant time here today. She's watched Wimbledon every day and after watching Emma Raducanu she's been saying how much she wants to play and improve her skills.
"I'm really glad that she has this passion for it now."
Aaliyah, who lives in Wimbledon, added: "There are lots of players that I like watching and Emma Raducanu is amazing.
"I was really excited to come today and it's been really fun to learn more about tennis and hit the ball with lots of other children. I would really like to keep playing tennis now."
Keep up to date with all the latest from tennis in Britain by following @the_LTA on Twitter, @LTA on Instagram, LTA - Tennis for Britain on Facebook and @lta on TikTok.
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