As Wimbledon got underway in London on Monday, the announcer told the crowd there were some special guests in attendance. People who have played a critical role in the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 response were invited to sit in the “royal box.”
The announcer only made it part-way through the list of names when the crowd broke out into applause.
"Today [the special guests] include leaders who have developed the anti-COVID vaccines," said the announcer, as the camera zoomed in on Dame Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford. Gilbert led the team that developed the AstraZeneca vaccine which has been widely used in the UK’s vaccination rollout.
Video of the event shows the crowd breaking into applause as Gilbert is zoomed in on, showing her sitting wearing a red blazer as the crowd’s cheers grow and drown out the announcer. Soon it was a standing ovation throughout the stadium and surrounding spectator areas.
An opening day on Centre Court with a difference...— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 28, 2021
A special moment as we say thank you to those who have played such an important role in the response to COVID-19#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/16dW1kQ2nr
In recognition of her efforts, Gilbert received a damehood earlier this month as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday honors list.
Dozens of people on Twitter shared the video clips with their own messages of “thanks,” including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Thank you Dame Sarah Gilbert and the incredible team that developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine 👏 https://t.co/2TAyzBKFCa— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) June 28, 2021
The account of Prince William and Kate Middleton thanked “Gilbert and the incredible team that developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.”
Fans and players have been sharing their gratitude since Wimbledon kicked off Monday. Last year’s tournament was cancelled amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s tournament has pandemic restrictions in place, including crowd limitations, proof of negative COVID-19 tests and vaccination requirements.