News | 14 Jul 2023

Aiming high: Vodafone ambassadors vie for fifth Wimbledon title

The wheelchair champs have also been helping to nurture the grassroots of the sport across the UK.

Alfie Hewett OBE and Gordon Reid OBE are two of Britain’s greatest-ever tennis players, both of whom have won numerous Grand Slam titles. The four-time Wimbledon doubles champions are currently competing in The Championships 2023, of which Vodafone is the Official Connectivity Partner. Their profiles as sporting role models, as well as their achievements on court, has led to their ambassador roles with Vodafone and becoming the faces of the #FeelTheConnection Summer campaign. 

The two tennis stars are also working with Vodafone to help promote Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, a grassroots tennis competition with regional qualifiers held across the country. Play Your Way to Wimbledon has, for the first time in 2023, opened up the tournament to Visual Impairment, Learning Disability and Wheelchair categories.

Wimbledon beckons to even more amateur hopefuls

The ball is in your court: new categories for disabled and adult players give even more chances for tennis enthusiasts to play at Wimbledon.

For the uninitiated, wheelchair tennis is played almost identically to its able-bodied counterpart – court size, net height and rackets are all the same. 

The only difference in the rules is that the ball can bounce twice, with the second bounce allowed outside the court. Players usually use wheelchairs built especially for the sport. Compared to wheelchairs for everyday life (day chairs), these chairs tend to be lighter and have straps for keeping the player securely seated. They also tend to have additional sets of smaller wheels for stability, mounted to the back and/or front, helping to prevent players from tipping over whenever they lean forwards. 

At the professional level in the UK, players compete in one of two categories: Open or Quad. In Open, men and women compete separately. In Quad, all players with substantial loss of function in at least one upper limb compete together. Quad players may have certain adaptations, such as rackets taped to their hands or electric wheelchairs. 

Alfie and Gordon’s roles as Vodafone ambassadors, working with the company to encourage the growth of the sport at the grassroots level, is especially fitting. It was grassroots players that kickstarted the popularity of wheelchair tennis, propelling the sport to the professional, international platform of the Paralympic Games within a decade-and-a-half of its creation. 

simple graphic showing the history of wheelchair tennis

Amateur players can get started with the LTA’s calendar of public competitions

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