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The Wimbledon Foundation has teamed up with international sports supporter HSBC to bring former Great Britain No.1 Tim Henman to India to spearhead a major new initiative aimed at boosting the development of junior tennis in the country.
India will host the first Wimbledon tennis event outside the UK as 11-time-Tour winner Henman heads to Delhi and Mumbai in January to launch The Road to Wimbledon in India with a series of coaching clinics and events offering local children the chance to play at Wimbledon next August.
Henman, who kick-started his career in India in 1994 with three successive tournament wins on the Indian satellite circuit, will be joined by All England Club Head Coach Dan Bloxham, for the activity in Delhi and Mumbai between 6-14 January 2014.
The Wimbledon Foundation, the community, charitable and development arm of the All England Club and The Championships, Wimbledon, and HSBC have linked with All India Tennis Association (AITA) on this pilot scheme as the first phase of a long term plan to support the development of Indian tennis.
The clinics are part of two National 14 and Under singles events in Delhi (RK Khanna Tennis Centre) and Mumbai (MSLTA Tennis Centre). The top sixteen boys and girls from these two events are invited to the Wimbledon Foundation Junior Masters in Delhi in April with the two boys and two girls finalists invited to compete in the UK HSBC National Finals on the grass at Wimbledon next August.
Tim Henman said: “India has a special place in my heart – 2014 marks twenty years since I made my breakthrough on the Indian satellite circuit, winning eighteen successive singles matches. This is pretty much where it started for me and thanks to The Wimbledon Foundation and HSBC this could be the start for a whole generation of Indian children.
“The activity in January is just the beginning of The Road to Wimbledon India and I can’t wait to see how we can help develop tennis in India over the coming years.”
Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club, said: “Launching The Road to Wimbledon in India is a major landmark for us and it’s superb that both Tim and Dan are going to be so closely involved. We look forward both to a long and successful partnership, and to welcoming the first finalists to the lawns of the All England Club at our UK National Finals next August.”
Anil Khanna, President of the AITA, said: “It is great news that Tim Henman and Dan Bloxham are coming over to Delhi and Mumbai with The Wimbledon Foundation and HSBC.
“Their visit is being co-ordinated between the AITA and Road to Wimbledon Tournament Director Paul Hutchins and it will be a really good boost for Indian juniors to have the opportunity to play and be coached by Tim and Dan over the six days they are in Delhi and Mumbai. It will also be a good opportunity for the AITA to discuss with The Wimbledon Foundation and HSBC some future ideas to assist junior tennis in India.”
HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship & Events Giles Morgan said: “Wimbledon is one of our flagship sponsorships and a truly unique event which transcends sport.
“However, even Wimbledon champions have to start somewhere which is why The Road to Wimbledon is so important to us. As with many of our flagship events, our long term ambition is to support the next generation of talent through our sponsorship of youth development and grassroots programmes.
“This new activity complements our existing support for The Road to Wimbledon which involves 700 clubs and thousands of children from all over the UK. As a global banking and financial services organisation, we open up a world of opportunities for people and the expansion to India is the perfect way to start the latest chapter in The Road to Wimbledon story.”