Roger Federer is due to visit a park in Abbey Wood this summer once its tennis court has been revamped with a £300,000 grant from the Lawn Tennis Association.
The eight-time Wimbledon champion’s visit will come as tennis courts at five locations across Greenwich borough are refurbished with the LTA cash.
But the improvements will come with a price for some regular players – as courts which were previously free to use will now cost £3.
Federer will unveil a piece of street art which will surround the two courts at Bostall Gardens as part of his sponsorship deal with Mercedes Benz, which is backing the tennis ace’s Neon Legacy project.
Mercedes made a one-off sports car in Federer’s honour to mark his retirement last year. The bright yellow car was sold at auction for €212,000 in November, with the money being put into grassroots tennis projects. The artwork in Bostall Gardens will be the first to be unveiled, and the council hopes to complete the refurbishment in time for his visit.
Greenwich’s deal with the LTA means courts at Bostall Gardens, Altash Park in Eltham, Kidbrooke Green Park, Plumstead Common and Chesterfield Walk on Blackheath will be resurfaced. In addition, the courts at Maryon Park in Charlton will be given a gated access system.
But the revamp will mean a £3 pay-and-play charge for Altash Gardens, Bostall Gardens, Kidbrooke Green Park, Maryon Park and Plumstead Common, or players can buy a £30 annual household season ticket that covers up to two courts. Bookings will be available via an LTA app.
The council says that 30 per cent of total court time will be available free of charge for community use, and that the charges for everyone else will pay for future maintenance. Chesterfield Walk charges will remain £6 for adults and £4 for juniors.
A similar deal with the LTA in Lewisham led to anger there when charges of between £5 and £7 were introduced.
Greenwich’s new charges were agreed at a cabinet meeting last Wednesday. The council’s cabinet member for leisure, Adel Khaireh, said: “We welcome the investment in Greenwich and also the investment of Mercedes-Benz and Roger Federer in Boston Gardens, which is going to be a great asset to the borough.
“It’s going to be a thing that brings all community together, not only to tackle mental health, also physical health, and also to rebuild the tennis legacy that we want to have within our borough.”
The investment in Abbey Wood will be welcome in an area of Greenwich borough that many locals feel is neglected.
But players of another summer sport in the neighbourhood are not as lucky: cricket nets in nearby Bostall Woods have become a target for vandals and flytippers, little more than a decade after they were unveiled as part of an Olympic legacy project.
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