As The Duke of Kent’s tenure as President of the All England Lawn Tennis Club draws to a close this weekend, he reflected on the tournament he’s championed for over 50 years in an exclusive article for The Telegraph calling himself “incredibly fortunate to have witnessed its evolution.”
Reflecting on how the tournament has always been special, Prince Edward wrote that he was “was struck by the electricity in the air, as if it were my very first visit” and that it immediately became clear to him “is how much we have all missed shared experiences such as these. The suspension of last year’s tournament was the first of its kind since the Second World War, and so I must applaud all those at the AELTC who have worked so hard to ensure Wimbledon can be enjoyed safely this summer.”
The Kents have long been associated with Wimbledon—the presidency is a role he inherited from his mother, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, who, in turn, inherited it from her husband. The Duchess of Kent was a regular attendee and trophy presenter while she still carried out royal engagements.
The Duke wrote about this familial connection: “For my wife and I to have shared in even a small part of the triumphant highs and agonising lows of Wimbledon’s champions and competitors has been a privilege.”
He also reflected on some of his personal highlights of tournaments past, which he calls “been too many edge-of-seat moments to count” though they include his first trophy presentation in 1969 to Rod Laver after his fourth Wimbledon win; the historic back-to-back finals between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2007 and 2008; and the “suspense as we prayed for Sir Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon victory in 2013, and the explosion when he became the first British man to win the singles title in over seventy years.”
He added: “I cannot help but think of 2007, and the then four-time defending champion Roger Federer taking on Rafael Nadal – a masterclass on both sides, and some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen. Several sets in, I still could not predict a winner. Federer took the trophy that day, but as we know, Nadal had his moment the next year, and not for the last time.”
And as he steps down this weekend, the Duke reflected on his legacy, writing: “It has been an honour to serve this remarkable organisation for as long as I have. The presidency of the club was held by both of my parents, and the weight of representing an institution that holds such a unique place in our nation’s fabric has not been lost on me. To say I will miss it is an understatement.”
He ended his article by wishing luck to the England football team ahead of their Euro 2020 final match on Sunday evening, writing that, as both a fan and past president of the Football Association, his thoughts “will also be with the England squad at Wembley and hoping against hope that it is indeed ‘coming home.’”