Press Release | 01 Jul 2024

Game, set, matched: Vodafone pledges to donate up to 75,000 connections as part of Wimbledon ‘Connect Better’ challenge

Vodafone launches new 'Connect Better' challenge at The Championships, Wimbledon, pledging to donate up to 75,000 connections to help people and sports clubs cross the digital divide.

  • Connect Better will monitor the fastest serves across gentlemen’s, ladies’ and Wheelchair singles competitions each day, and match the miles per hour (mph) total in an equivalent amount of donated connectivity.
  • Based on last year’s fastest serves, this could mean up to 71,148 connections across the event*.
  • The challenge is part of Vodafone’s everyone.connected programme, which aims to help four million people and businesses cross the digital divide by 2025.
  • Vodafone ambassador, Tim Henman, said: “Connectivity is essential in today’s world, and its importance in sports cannot be overstated. Whether it’s finding local clubs, booking sessions or connecting with other enthusiasts, digital access is a game-changer for athletes and fans alike.”

Vodafone, the Official Connectivity Partner to The Championships, Wimbledon, has pledged to donate up to 75,000 connections over the course of this year’s event to help people and sports clubs cross the digital divide.

The Connect Better challenge will take the on-court competition to new heights this year, with Vodafone challenging players to hit their fastest serve and help them smash the donation target of 75,000 connections.

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Vodafone will be tracking the fastest serves achieved every day across the gentlemen’s, ladies’ and wheelchair singles competitions, and will match the total miles per hour (mph) in donated SIMs, tech and resources.

To serve up a grand total in the tens of thousands, Vodafone will be turning the players’ power into real-world impact by multiplying the final mph number by 14 – the number of days the event runs across.

Based on the fastest serves recorded by IBM during last year’s Wimbledon, this could mean 71,148 donations provided to people, businesses and communities without access to digital connectivity.

Vodafone ambassador and British tennis legend, Tin Henman, said: “I’m calling on all tennis players at this year’s Championships to hit their fastest serves, not just for the glory of the game, but to support Vodafone’s Connect Better challenge. Each powerful serve will directly contribute to the donation of essential digital resources for those who need them most.”

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The initiative comes on the back of Vodafone research that uncovers the impact of the digital divide on grassroots sports and accessibility. It found that 43% of Brits admit they’d find it difficult to identify opportunities to get involved in sports without digital connectivity, while a third (33%) would struggle to do so for their children.

Nearly a third (31%) also say they use digital connectivity to find out information about local sports clubs and book themselves into classes or sessions (27%), while almost one-in-five (18%) do so to get hold of required kit and equipment (18%).

Meanwhile, more than a quarter (26%) rely on the internet to connect with other people, such as other parents, who are involved in local sports clubs. Almost one-in-eight (12%) use it to book their children into sports classes.

In fact, 63% of new sports club sign ups – for adults and parents on behalf of their children – are all done online.

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As well as the impact on participation, digital access is key for viewing sports. Around one in four of the population admit they are reliant on the internet during Wimbledon to check results (42%) and look at the order of play (38%), while almost a quarter (24%) watch matches online during the event.

The challenges presented by digital exclusion extend to the sports clubs themselves too, with research conducted by Vodafone’s charity partner, Sported, revealing that 66% of Sported’s member clubs do not consider themselves well connected. In fact, nearly a quarter (23%) say they are poorly connected or not connected at all.

A further 88% would find improving digital skills from online resources and support valuable to their business.

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Sarah Kaye, Chief Executive, Sported, said: “Poor connectivity and a lack of resources severely limit the potential of sports clubs in deprived communities.

“Access to the internet, modern devices, and essential digital skills are crucial for these clubs and organisations to thrive. Unfortunately, many are left behind due to a lack of these resources, restricting their opportunities for growth, collaboration and exposure.

“71% said a free six-month SIM plan would be valuable to how they operate. That is exactly why programmes like Vodafone’s everyone.connected are essential in helping to bridge the digital divide. It not only equips these difference-makers with connectivity but also fosters a sense of community and inclusion, ensuring no one is left behind in our increasingly connected world.”

The research from Vodafone also found that more than two-thirds of adults (67%) admit that having access to the internet plays a huge role in keeping them fit and healthy, and ensuring they take part in sport and exercise.

“71% said a free six-month SIM plan would be valuable to how they operate. That is exactly why programmes like Vodafone’s everyone.connected are essential in helping to bridge the digital divide."

Sarah Kaye, Chief Executive, Sported

Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “As the Official Connectivity Partner to The Championships, we recognise that the digital divide extends to the world of sport as well. Many individuals, communities and businesses lack the necessary connectivity to fully participate in, and enjoy, sports activities. This divide poses a barrier to accessing training resources, engaging with sports communities, and even promoting local clubs effectively.

“Our everyone.connected initiative is designed to help address these challenges. By providing essential digital resources and support, we aim to empower sports enthusiasts and the organisers of grassroots clubs and businesses – who are often volunteers – to ensure that more people in sport can benefit from the opportunities that connectivity brings.”

The gap between people with internet access and people without it is called the digital divide. For people negatively affected by the digital divide in the UK, it’s difficult to complete everyday tasks, such as accessing online learning or staying in touch with loved ones.

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The Connect Better challenge is part of Vodafone’s everyone.connected programme, which aims to help four million people and businesses cross the digital divide by the end of 2025.

Vodafone believes connectivity is essential and everyone should have access to the opportunities it provides. To date, the company has helped over 2 million people and businesses cross the digital divide by working with partners like Wimbledon.

In doing so, Vodafone has donated mobile connectivity and technology to those who need it most, providing free support to digitally transform and upskill businesses and communities, while offering targeted, affordable tariffs and services that make being connected super-accessible.

Stay up to date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter/X, as well as signing up for News Centre website notifications.


Notes to Editors

* Source: Statista

Fastest Men’s Serve 2023: 141 mph

Fastest Women’s Serve 2023: 121 mph

Wheelchair tennis fastest serve 2023 – ​​T. Oda at 101 mph

141 x 14 = 1,974. 1,974 x 14 = 27,636

121 x 14 = 1,694. 1,694 x 14 = 23,716

101 x 14 = 1,414. 1,414 x 14 = 19,796

= 71,148


*Survey of 2,000 nationally-representative adults, carried out by 3Gem between 22nd and 24th June 2024.

About The Championships, Wimbledon

The Championships, Wimbledon, is the oldest of the four tennis Grand Slams and the only one played on grass. Managed by The All England Lawn Tennis Club and staged on the Club’s Grounds, Wimbledon has evolved from its origins as a private members’ croquet club in 1868, to one of the world’s biggest annual sporting events and one of the most well-respected brands in sport. Visit and follow @wimbledon on all major social media platforms.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


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