Scientist behind COVID vaccine, Dame Sarah Gilbert, given standing ovation on Wimbledon's Centre Court

·2-min read

One of the British scientists behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine has been given a standing ovation on Wimbledon's Centre Court.

Dame Sarah Gilbert was among a number of "inspirational individuals" invited to watch the first day's play from the royal box.

In order to "say thank you", the All England Club said it was providing 100 daily tickets for Centre Court and Court One, for "various groups ranging from the NHS to Transport For London".

It is doing so to recognise the "service they have provided throughout the pandemic".

NHS fundraiser Sir Tom Moore's daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, was among those present at the start of the first tournament in two years.

Ahead of the first game on Centre Court between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Britain's Jack Draper, an announcer said Monday's guests included "leaders who have developed the anti-COVID vaccines".

He was unable to say any more, because a huge cheer went up around the world-famous sporting arena.

Dame Sarah, in a red jacket and white top, looked a little moved as tennis fans roared their applause and began to stand.

Others in the royal box, including the Duke of Kent, turned in her direction and joined in the praise.

Ms Ingram-Moore smiled and waved as her father's name also attracted cheers. Sir Tom raised more than £32m for the NHS.

The competition's chief executive, Sally Bolton, said there will be a "familiar feel" at the championships following a "level of uncertainty" caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

There are, however, some changes to ensure the event remains COVID-secure.

On arrival, spectators must show evidence of either being double jabbed or a negative lateral flow test.

Hand sanitiser stations have been set up, and people must wear masks when walking around. Face coverings can be removed while matches are being watched.

The first day was disrupted by poor weather with matches delayed because of rain.

Conditions are expected to improve through the week.

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