The Princess of Wales, Patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, was joined by eight-time singles champion Roger Federer on a visit to Wimbledon to shine a light on what it takes to be a Ball Boy or Girl ahead of 2023 Wimbledon Championship.
Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. The Princess has been the patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club since 2016.
Each year, around 1,000 applicants, aged 13-15, from local schools take part in training sessions at the All England Club’s Community Tennis Centre in Raynes Park. Approximately 250 BBGs eventually take to the courts at Wimbledon following several months of regimented training sessions, learning a variety of skills from signalling to ball changes, rolling balls up to the net and the correct techniques to bounce the balls to players. The final cohort of BBGs that are selected are comprised of approximately 170 new participants, with around 80 BBGs returning from previous years.
In the film released today, Her Royal Highness is seen visiting the All England Club with Roger Federer to meet returning and prospective BBGs and hear about their experiences in training for the role. The film sees the Princess take part in a doubles rally with Roger Federer on No. 3 Court before Her Royal Highness joins the BBGs on court to participate in a training session. Together, the Princess, Roger Federer and the BBGs discuss what it’s like to be a BBG, the experience of going through the training programme and the lasting impacts of the skills learnt.
Following the rally, the Princess and Roger Federer go to the All England Club’s Indoor Tennis Centre, where a training session for prospective BBGs is taking place. The Princess and Roger Federer meet Sarah Goldson, a BBG manager, and observe the session to learn about the different skills that are being perfected and hear from prospective BBGs about their experiences of the training. The film ends with the Princess and Roger Federer taking part in the session by shadowing the BBGs before a final group photograph.
Speaking about the film, Sarah Goldson, BBG Manager, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Her Royal Highness and Roger Federer to Wimbledon to see and experience what it takes to be a BBG at Wimbledon. We’re really proud of the young people who dedicate so much time and effort to their role which plays an integral part in delivering a successful championships.”
During the filming, Roger Federer said: “This is proper practice, I’m really impressed at how much effort and training goes into being a ball kid during the Championships. I used to be a ball kid in Basel when I was 9 or 10 and as I have always said: once a ball kid always a ball kid.”
Speaking during the film about the skills you learn in BBG training, the Princess said:
“Wimbledon is renowned for its amazingly professional Ball Boys and Ball Girls, the amount of work it takes, it’s incredible to see it behind the scenes… With all the discipline and everything you’ve learnt, you’ll be able to take it into so many other parts of your life, things like confidence and that feeling of pride with being on any of the courts is such a big moment.”
The 2023 championships will take place from 3 to 16 July with the film being played every day on the iconic hill, to those in the queue and around the grounds.