All eyes will be on Wimbledon this summer when the world’s most famous tennis tournament gets under way – but former Pinchbeck resident Georgina Rhodes will be keeping an even closer watch, as one of those responsible for organising the event.
The former Spalding High School student first began working at the All England Lawn Tennis Club as a waitress to earn some extra cash to supplement her university studies in the capital city – that was 16 years ago.
Today she is the venue’s Events and Operations Support Manager, responsible for co-ordinating all the club’s function rooms, delivery of events within the catering team, organising sponsors and corporate clients as well as running the Facilities Management Catering (FMC) control office during the Championships.
“This year will be my 16th Championships and during that time we’ve had Andy Murray’s win and the Millennium building – a new area for members and competitors – was opened in 2000. In 2009 the roof came on Centre Court and we’re currently working up to 2019, when Number 1 Court will have a roof as well,” said the 35-year-old mum of two.
“There’s a 20-year plan and I’ve been very much a part of that. And even though I’ve been here so long, I never tire of it. There’s a great buzz and always something new happening.”
Georgina, who was studying music at Kingston University, originally answered an advert seeking waitresses for a contract caterer which provided staff for sporting events including Twickenham and Wimbledon.
She continued working at the tennis club when the catering contractors changed and began taking on admin work in the HR office, where she helped recruit the 2,000 extra staff needed during Wimbledon.
After her graduation in 2000 Georgina was thrilled to be offered a permanent role as a recruitment assistant and following her appointment has worked her way up to her current role.
“I often get asked when I tell people that I work at Wimbledon – what do you do for the other 50 weeks of the year? But our whole planning operation starts in September.
“From the end of May I’m working every weekend until July and during the event I start work at 6am. If there’s no late play I usually finish around 9pm, but if the roof is closed and play continues I can be here until 11pm,” she said.
“I do have a television in my office so I do get to watch some of the games during quiet periods – but that isn’t very often! During the two weeks my office turns into the control office for the caterers – all correspondence goes through me.”