Seven Paralympians honoured with invite to Wimbledon’s Royal Box
Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 champions were among the distinguished guests at Wimbledon 202205 Jul 2022
Para alpine skier Neil Simpson and his guide Andrew Simpson were among Paralympic champions invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon 2022.
ⒸJulian Finney/Getty Images
When it comes to Wimbledon, there is no better place to watch the matches than the Royal Box.
Overlooking Centre Court, the Royal Box is not only a prime viewing location, but also an exclusive invitation reserved for Great Britain’s biggest names. This year seven Paralympians were among the select group of individuals invited there in recognition of their achievements.
The Royal Box tradition goes back to 1922. Its seats are used to accommodate members of the British and foreign royal families as well as heads of government.
There are also guests who earn their invites through notable contributions to the country. These include members of the British armed forces, scientists, advocates, charity workers, representatives of the entertainment industry and athletes, among other notable figures.
The seven Paralympic champions invited to watch Wimbledon matches from the Royal Box in 2022 included Para equestrian riders Natasha Baker and Sir Lee Pearson, wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, Para sprinter and Para cyclist Kadeena Cox, Para cyclists Jody Cundy and Dame Sarah Storey, and Para alpine skier Neil Simpson with guide Andrew Simpson.
“This was our first time at Wimbledon. It was a huge honour to be invited to the Royal Box," Neil Simpson said. "We both really enjoyed the whole experience and there were some really good matches for us to watch and we were very well looked after.”
While it was the first visit to the Royal Box for 19-year-old Simpson, who won gold in the men’s vision impaired super-G in his Paralympic debut at the Beijing 2022 Games, it was the second visit for five-time Paralympic champion Cundy. Still, the Para cyclist's familiarity with the setting did not dim his enthusiasm in the slightest.
“It was the second time I’d been invited to the Royal Box on Centre Court, having previously attended in 2017. It’s a fantastic honour to be recognised by the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club and attend with sporting royalty from the previous 12 months," Cundy said. "The whole day you’re made to feel like a proper VIP, everyone is so friendly and helpful and the food was lovely. Obviously the Royal Box is also a brilliant seat to watch the tennis from, and you get to truly appreciate the skill of the athletes playing in front of you.”
On the same day, 2 July, the Royal Box hosted several Olympic champions, including diver Tom Daley, swimmers Adam Peaty and Tom Dean, BMX racer Bethany Shriever, gymnast Max Whitlock, boxer Galal Yafai, and members of the British women’s curling team.
The Royal Box has a total of 74 seats while the maximum capacity of Centre Court at Wimbledon is 15,000 people.
The invitees are selected by the Chairman of the All England Club in consultation with members of The Championships’ Organising Committee, The Lawn Tennis Association and other stakeholders.
Paralympians have become regular guests in the Royal Box in recent years. Great Britain is set to mark the 10-year anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in August, which marks a milestone moment for the Paralympic Movement in the country.
“2012 was a stand out for Paralympic sport and really helped bring it into the public eye in the UK, and you can see this by the inclusion of Paralympic athletes invited to the Royal Box,” said Cundy, who won bronze in the men’s individual pursuit C4 at London 2012.
Andrew Simpson agreed: “I feel 2012 were huge Games for the Paralympic Movement and definitely helped to push it more into the public eye. I would say the Royal Box has always been good at inviting Paralympians as well as Olympians and it's nice to all be there on the same day."
The Wimbledon wheelchair tennis tournament begins on 7 July and wraps up on 10 July. Live results will be available here.