‘Emotional’ standing ovation at Wimbledon for scientist who helped develop COVID vaccine

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Watch: Standing ovation at Wimbledon for AstraZeneca COVID vaccine developer

Wimbledon spectators gave an “emotional” standing ovation for the scientist who helped develop the COVID vaccine and was seated in the royal box.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, who led the Oxford University team that developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, was applauded by the audience at Centre Court on Monday.

It came ahead of the game between defending champion Novak Djokovic and 19-year-old Brit Jack Draper at Centre Court on Monday. 

Before the match began, the announcer revealed that Gilbert was among the NHS workers and scientists who had contributed to the pandemic response and been invited to sit in the royal box.

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The crowd starts to clap when the camera pans in on Gilbert sitting in the box. 

Dame Sarah Catherine Gilbert (centre) in the Royal Box at Centre Court on day one of Wimbledon at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Monday June 28, 2021.
Dame Sarah Catherine Gilbert (centre) in the Royal Box at Centre Court on day one of Wimbledon at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Monday June 28, 2021.

The applause gradually intensifies as people get to their feet in a standing ovation.

Boris Becker then says in the background commentary: “What an emotional moment starting the championship off.” 

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Boris Johnson later hailed the moment as "inspiring" in a statement on Twitter. 

The prime minister shared a video of the applause and wrote: "An inspiring moment at Centre Court today as spectators thanked those who have contributed so much in our fight against COVID-19. 

"We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have saved lives and helped us on the road back to normality."

Gilbert, who was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2021 Birthday Honours, was instrumental to the development of the Oxford vaccine. 

Also in attendance at the game were NHS medical staff who have led clinical trials as well as those engaged in critical care.

Hannah Ingram-Moore, the daughter of Captain Tom Moore who died aged 100 earlier this year after becoming a national hero when raising £33m for the NHS, also received a warm reception.  

The players were also then given a standing ovation as they made their way out onto the court.

Draper is playing his first grand slam tournament, while Djokovic is chasing his third grand slam title this year and his 20th overall.

It came after Wimbledon was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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