Celebrating a decade of impact: The Wimbledon Foundation's 10-year journey

“The dream is to support as many people as possible to create positive change."

July 8, 2024, 5:06 AM

LONDON -- When most people think of Wimbledon, they think of the iconic, larger-than-life players who have dominated the game and affected the collective memory of tennis for generations – Roger Federer, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf and John McEnroe just to name a few.

But there is another group of players working behind the scenes at The Wimbledon Foundation, the official charity of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, who work to directly impact the lives of thousands locally, nationally and internationally with their charitable work linked directly to the world famous tennis tournament.

Headed by Amanda Horton-Mastin, The Wimbledon Foundation is marking a significant milestone this year -- its 10th anniversary -- and has made remarkable strides since its inception in 2014, donating over £20 million to various charitable causes as it aims to directly affect positive change to the wider community.

“The Wimbledon Foundation has been doing amazing work across the whole of the 10 years because there has always been a tradition of being very connected into the community,” Horton-Mastin told ABC News. “The work that we're funding particularly here in the local community is really at the grassroots of tackling all the sort of social needs that exist in the local communities here and also helping to reduce the inequalities. Throughout London, you'll find a mix of people who have money and people who are really struggling to make ends meet and so the foundation is very much focused on those people who are in disadvantaged areas or underserved by local services and one of our aims is to make grants to local charities that support local people.”

Preparations continue around the Grounds of the AELTC for both players and ground staff as opening day of The Championships nears on June 26, 2024.
Chloe Knott/AELTC

As the Wimbledon Foundation has grown and become more entrenched in the community, its efforts are evident in the kinds of grassroots projects it has been supporting.

One such initiative is the "A Roof for All Fund," which provides multi-year grants to homelessness charities in the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth and was founded to celebrate the completion of the No.1 Court roof in 2019. The fund aims to enhance the capacity and sustainability of these charities, directly addressing the crisis of homelessness.

Another notable local project is the collaboration with the Polka Dot Theatre in Wimbledon Village, where the Foundation helped build a sensory garden, offering children a sensory experience -- specifically designed to support deaf, disabled and neurodivergent children and young people -- to explore their creativity.

“It's the best job in the whole wide world,” Horton-Mastin told ABC News. “The dream is to be able to support as many people as possible to create positive change in their lives and really champion their own ability to achieve what they're trying to do.”

The Wimbledon Foundation's primary source of funding comes from both the All England Club and the Championships -- two separate entities -- and is supplemented by public contributions and donations year round.

Ground staff at work at Wimbledon on June 24, 2024.
Chloe Knott/AELTC

However, much of the charitable contributions given to The Wimbledon Foundation happens during the tournament through all kinds of different schemes like when fans purchase used tennis balls from matches taking place at The Championships, those proceeds go directly to the Foundation, or the resale of tickets from people who leave early and their tickets are put back up for sale for those already on the grounds to gain access to the main courts.

In 2023, the reusable cup deposit initiative -- a scheme which saw people place a £1 deposit for a cup on the purchase of their first drink and given the choice to either redeem their money when they are done or place their cup in a charity return point meaning their money goes directly to the Foundation -- raised £139,102 ($175,987) for the charity directly.

Nationally, the Foundation's flagship program, "Set for Success," launched in 2020 in partnership with Barclays and the Youth Sport Trust, provides young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to develop life and leadership skills through mentorship from inspirational athletes.

“This program is expanding, aiming to reach 150 schools and nearly 4,000 young people by 2027,” Horton-Mastin said.

Meanwhile, internationally, the Foundation's partnerships extend to global humanitarian efforts, like with WaterAid, which saw the Foundation bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to communities in nine countries. Over the next four years, this partnership will focus on transforming healthcare facilities in Malawi, Mozambique and Pakistan.

“We also support the British Red Cross with their emergency response,” Horton-Mastin said. “They're doing amazing things like reuniting families who've been separated as a result of having to complete war zones. Really important work.”

A view over Brentham Tennis Club showing the Fred Perry Brand logo on court on March 8, 2024 in London.
Julian Finney/Getty Images, FILE

Horton-Mastin’s job managing all of these grants from the Wimbledon Foundation and affecting positive change in the wider community through charitable action is not without its own challenges.

“The biggest challenge is the one that arises when you're looking at proposals from loads of different amazing organizations who are doing such important work and we just haven't got enough money to fund everything -- no one ever has -- so you actually have to narrow down the grant applications to the number that we can afford to spend within our budget,” said Horton-Mastin. “You just instinctively want to support everything that comes along, but you can’t and that is by far the toughest part of the job for me, making those decisions on who gets support and why.”

As The Wimbledon Foundation takes a moment to celebrate its first decade, it is well aware of what it is looking to do in the next decade of its existence.

From its initial grant-making of up to £1 million, the Foundation awarded £4.5 million last year, significant growth for such a young charity, and the plan is to keep expanding, particularly focusing on local communities and making new partnerships that uses the power of sport to inspire and motivate.

“We are aiming to look at where there are needs and where sport could be used as a powerful tool to bring messaging into an area where people are looking to improve life chances,” said Horton-Mastin. “No matter who you are, how old you are or where you are from, the opportunities ahead are endless and we can’t wait to keep forging ahead into the next decade.”

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