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Wimbledon organisers gift free tickets to Ukrainian refugees

Wimbledon organisers have given out hundreds of free tickets to Ukrainian refugees, to welcome them to their new home in Merton, south-west London. 

The borough of Merton is close to where the tennis championships are held by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), and is also where over 100 local families have welcomed those fleeing war. 

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, forcing millions of Ukrainians to leave the country and seek sanctuary elsewhere.

Tickets to Wimbledon were presented at an afternoon tea held in Merton, with attendees treated to the classic tennis dish of strawberries and cream. 

Slawek Szczepanski, chief executive of the Polish Family Association – which organised the event – told news agency PA Media: “Those people came a few weeks ago, totally shattered, and now they’re able to join us for tea.

“They left the country with nothing, they needed to go, they don’t have anything to go back to, they don’t know if their family’s still alive.

“That kind of trauma is an awful experience, and seeing them now overcoming those issues and trying to fit in, it’s amazing.”

Head of the Wimbledon Foundation Paige Murphy said: “It’s an incredibly proud moment for us – it’s part of our mission to give people a really special experience after a really traumatic few months. 

“To be able to provide a unique day when they can hopefully have a bit of respite and really get some enjoyment out of it is incredibly inspiring for us.”

The Wimbledon Championships begin on Monday and will run until July 10. 

Image: Shep McAllister on Unsplash