Wimbledon in Wandsworth: summer of sport kicks off at Southside big screen

Wandsworth’s Wimbledon fans can enjoy the tournament on the big screen while supporting local businesses at Southside shopping centre this summer. 

The tennis grand slam will be streamed on a screen in the Southside piazza every day until the July 16 final as part of Wandsworth Town Business Improvement District’s (BID) “Big Screen Wandsworth” series. 

Other sporting events including the FIFA Women’s World Cup will also be streamed during July, as will a number of films and four National Theatre performances.

Lauren Furey, the BID’s marketing and communications manager, said: “I really feel like there’s something for everyone.

“We are very aware of the community that we have here. 

“There are lot of young professionals and there are young families, so this is something that we hope caters to that entire demographic.”

Wandsworth Town BID has been working to promote Wandsworth businesses and improve the area since 2017, and the Big Screen is the latest in a number of events they have organised in support of these goals.

The popularity of summer sports tournaments has led to record breaking viewership figures in recent years, with a total of 25.5 million people watching Wimbledon on BBC TV in 2022 and an additional 53.8 million online streams. 

Furey hopes screening such popular sporting events in the town centre will increase footfall and encourage residents to make the most of the entertainment, shops and restaurants on their doorstep. 

She said: “This is all about bringing people together and getting them loving what’s in Wandsworth Town because we do think it is a neighbourhood of fantastic businesses.

“It’s quite unique in a lot of ways. It has very much a London feel, but also quite an independent village atmosphere as well.

“It’s always nice for people to become familiar with what’s available to them and to fall in love with Wandsworth.”

SOUTHSIDE TO CENTRE COURT: Viewers can enjoy sport and entertainment after shopping in the Southside Centre

Wandsworth resident Maddie, 28, headed down to the big screen to catch up with a friend and the tennis after finding out about the initiative online. 

She said: “It’s so local for me, it’s so easy and it’s been so much fun.

“We’ve gone and got a couple of drinks, we’ve had some food.

“It’s nice to see everyone together enjoying the tennis. 

“How can you not have a good time?”

The BID is working with sponsors Young’s Brewery, New Acres and Legal and General to provide the screenings free of charge.

They have also partnered with Urban Food Fest to give viewers the option of purchasing food and drink, with East London’s Galeta Bakery offering a range of sweet treats during the first week of July. 

While wet weather slowed business at the start of the week, Galeta employee Leonardo explained how initiatives like Big Screen Wandsworth benefit both the local area and businesses. 

He said: “It’s good for the area because it brings people out, and it’s good for the company because it gives people a chance to get to know us.

“At these sorts of events there are people that book us for private events, which is good, and we always have people leaving their resumes with us, so we can give people jobs.”

Big Screen Wandsworth runs until Sunday July 30, and Furey urged residents to make the most of the screen while they can.

She said: “You could sit on your sofa at home and stick on the BBC and watch Wimbledon, you could stick on Netflix and watch Back to the Future, or Disney and Moana, or you can do it in the heart of the town. You can enjoy local food, you can have a delicious coffee, and you can enjoy being outdoors in a social environment.”

The full event programme is available here.

SUMMER OF STREAMING: Sports, movies and theatre performances are coming to the big screen

All image credits: Mirrhyn Stephen

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