Chris Salzano enjoys a memorable meal at The All England Club’s Wingfield Café
It might seem a bit early for the tennis season, but the bright, airy restaurant at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) is open year-round for lunches and afternoon tea. The Wingfield Café is a great spot where you can sit next to a wall of windows and overlook Wimbledon Park while soaking up the atmosphere and feeling inspired by the hallowed turf without the crowds. The security staff at Gate 4 will welcome you and there is plenty of parking.
My trip was for a working lunch with Ulrika Hogberg, who is the Wimbledon Foundation and Community Manager. The Wimbledon Foundation is the AELTC’s charitable arm and supports local people and charities. In 2016, more than £430,000 was awarded to 63 projects meeting social needs in Merton and Wandsworth. When I met Ulrika, she was not long back from India and was keen to tell me all about the Foundation’s work there.
First things first, we headed to the counter to choose our lunch; there’s a fair selection, from staples such as jacket potatoes and colourful salads to hearty fare such as pies, home-made sausage rolls and quiche. There is also a great choice of cakes, pastries and desserts, so definitely a good place for afternoon tea or to bring out-of-town visitors for a treat.
I opted for the perfectly-cooked salmon with potatoes and heaped my plate with fresh greens and wholesome grains from the salad bar. Ulrika chose a cottage pie – brimming with filling and with a golden crispy top. They both tasted as delicious as they looked. Ulrika pointed out that the menu changes daily and assured me that it’s consistently good.
Over coffee, Ulrika explained how active the AELTC is in the community and the many events it sponsors. The Foundation’s aim is to use the heritage of the Club and The Championships to help change lives through playing, giving and learning. Her trip to India was to visit the Foundation’s international sport-for-development project with Magic Bus. The project uses tennis to help teach children living in marginalised communities in Delhi about the importance of education, hygiene and nutrition, and gender equality in creating a sustainable future.
One such example is 14-year-old Nikki and her family, who survive on less than £35 a month. Through a tennis-based curriculum, Nikki has learned about the importance of both education and hygiene. “It’s amazing to see how tennis helps teach children about the importance of something like washing hands, as well as improving confidence and aspiration,” said Ulrika. “It’s been fantastic to see the positive change and impact on these young people first-hand.”
The Foundation is also making an impact closer to home, too, but we decide to save that story, and dessert, for another visit. I’ll certainly be back for afternoon tea.
For more about the Wimbledon Foundation’s work and grants, or visiting the Wingfield Café (open 10am to 5.30pm), visit www.wimbledon.com