News | 07 Mar 2022

Vodafone teams up with teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu to inspire the next generation of players

Emma will support the brand’s commitment to help grow grassroots tennis in the UK, using Vodafone connectivity to expand access to the sport for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

  • As part of her role, Emma will become the face of Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, delivered in partnership by the LTA, The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, and Vodafone.
  • With entries now open, Play Your Way to Wimbledon is the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK, with thousands competing for a chance to play on Wimbledon’s historic courts.

Vodafone has today announced a new partnership with 19-year-old tennis sensation Emma Raducanu as its grassroots tennis ambassador. Emma will work with the brand to inspire the next generation of players and help grow grassroots tennis in the UK.

As part of her role, Emma will become the face of Vodafone’s grassroots tennis initiatives, with plans to use Vodafone connectivity to expand access to tennis for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. This includes the relaunched and expanded mass participation competition Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, formerly known as the Road to Wimbledon, which will be delivered in partnership by the LTA, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, and Vodafone.

With entries now open, thousands of 14&U and 18&U players are set to take part in the initial stages held in clubs, parks and schools, leading to county and regional finals in June and July. The winners of these stages will progress to the national finals, taking place on Wimbledon’s Aorangi Courts in August. They will also have the chance to immerse themselves in the true Wimbledon experience, competing in whites and touring the historic Grounds and Museum.

Young female tennis player caught in action shot PR Still
Emma Raducanu will inspire the next generation of tennis players, like Katie Randall here, and support Vodafone’s comitment to help grow grassroots tennis in the UK

From 2023, the LTA and the All England Club are planning for the competition to expand further, including through the introduction of additional age groups and disability categories, which Vodafone is proud to support.

There has already been good news for grassroots tennis in the UK, with the three months after Emma’s grand slam win seeing more adults pick up a racquet regularly than for the same period in any of the past five years. Vodafone will work with Emma, the All England Club and the LTA to build on this ‘Raducanu Effect’ and help get more children and adults playing and enjoying tennis as they take part in the competition.

Off the court, Vodafone will use its network and superfast 5G to help Emma keep in touch with her family, friends and fans as she tours. As a global citizen with a diverse heritage and fanbase, Emma has relationships all across the world, and Vodafone’s technology will enable her to stay in touch with family, friends and fans as she travels.

Max Taylor, Vodafone Consumer Director, said: “Emma has captivated the nation over the last 18 months, delivering one of the most iconic British sporting moments in recent memory and inspiring a huge number of new players to pick up a racket for the first time.

“As the face of modern British tennis and a graduate of the LTA’s grassroots programme – which we are proud to now be supporting – Emma is the perfect person to champion the relaunch and expansion of Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone and our ambition to democratise the sport and connect a new generation of fans and players.”

Emma Raducanu said: “I’m so excited to be working with Vodafone to inspire the next generation of tennis players in the UK. The support I received at a grassroots level has been key to my development as a player, and I’m looking forward to helping make these initiatives even bigger, better and more accessible.”

Gus Henderson, Commercial Director at the All England Club, said: “We are delighted to work with the LTA and Vodafone to build on the strong heritage of the Road to Wimbledon, relaunching and expanding it to become the UK’s biggest individual mass participation competition.

“We hope that Play Your Way to Wimbledon helps to encourage more children to try tennis and develop a love of the game, with the chance to play on the grass courts at Wimbledon as a compelling inspiration factor.”

Oliver Scadgell, Participation Director at the LTA, said: “By working with Vodafone and the All England Club on this competition, we’re continuing our vision to open up tennis and grow the sport at a grassroots level. The introduction of broader age groups and disability categories from 2023 is key to this objective and it’s hugely beneficial to have Emma’s support in encouraging participation.”

To mark the announcement, Vodafone used a time-slice rig and a bespoke racket threaded with electroluminescent (EL) wire to create a unique 360 degree ‘digital sculpture’ of Emma alongside grassroots player Katie Randall.

Popularised by the Matrix, and still used by national and international broadcasters as the cutting-edge of 360 filming, time-slice rigs use 120 different cameras and state-of-the-art software, an example of Vodafone’s commitment to using the latest technology to support the next generation of tennis players.

Vodafone announces new partnership with Wimbledon tennis

As Official Connectivity Partner, Vodafone will use its world-leading connectivity and the power of 5G to help bring the sport to more people, working alongside Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association.

The announcement follows Vodafone’s recent multi-year deal with Wimbledon and the All England Club as Official Connectivity Partner of The Championships.

Working alongside Wimbledon and Emma, Vodafone will use its world-leading connectivity, superfast 5G network and cutting-edge AR, VR and haptic technology to help bring the sport to more people and enhance the viewing and playing experience.

To find out more about Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, including how to sign up to compete at your local club, park or school, visit https://www.lta.org.uk/play-your-way-to-wimbledon/.

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Notes to Editors

About Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone

Formerly known as the Road to Wimbledon, the event was championed by the late Paul Hutchins MBE, former British Davis Cup Captain. It was first held in the UK in 2002, with the addition of qualifying tournaments in several Asian nations introduced between 2014-2019. Having paused the event due to the pandemic and given the introduction of a 14&U event to the Junior Championships to be hosted during the second week of The Championships from 2022, the All England Club and the LTA took the opportunity to reimagine the mass participation competition with a sole focus on UK participants.

Entries for Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, opened on 1 March 2022, with thousands of players from clubs, parks and schools in the UK set to take part in the 14&U girls’ and boys’ singles and 18&U girls’ and boys’ doubles.

Winners will progress to county and regional finals held in June and July where they can secure their place at the national finals, to be held at the Wimbledon Aorangi courts from 7-13 August 2022.

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 also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, we have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. 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. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, rising to 35 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. By spring 2022, our target is to make full fibre services available to more than eight 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: www.vodafone.co.uk.

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