Simpson is going back to Wimbledon the first week in July, while the tourna-ment
is being played, to discuss logistics for an October trip when he will show
the documentary to schools across the United Kingdom as the first partnership
event between the All England Club and One Love.
“I really hope they’re enlightened. I hope they’re inspired that no matter
where you are in the world you can be successful, no matter what your situation
is, if you do the right thing and make the right choices,” Simpson says. “I also
want them to understand the adversities this black woman went through to get
where she was, and the realities of what it is to hate. To judge people. To be a
sheep. They need to be a leader, not a follower.”
The partnership in Israel came about after Simpson and his wife, JoAnn,
took a trip to the Holy Land earlier this year. While there, they visited one of
the nation’s 15 tennis centers and discovered they shared One Love’s goal of
improving children’s lives by breaking barriers with the sport.
“Those tennis centers have Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Polish Jews, Russian
Jews, Ethiopian Jews all living together, trying to get better at hitting a tennis
ball and succeeding in life,” Simpson says. “Those kids are at-risk kids, doing
the same thing that we’re doing. The common bond is hitting a daggum ten-nis
ball. And helping those young boys and girls succeed in life, together!
Christians, Muslims, Jews, Arabs in all these cities. That, to me, is everything.
And that’s the same thing we’re doing right here in ’lil Wilmington, North
One Love’s plans include enacting an exchange program with the kids of the
All England Club and One Love, and maybe with the Israeli tennis centers.
“It’s definitely one of our immediate goals,” Simpson says. “Do this cultural
exchange of our kids going to England playing against kids over there, and
sharing. Kids from England coming here, experiencing Wrightsville Beach and
Wilmington, playing against each other, learning about each other, finding
out what they have in common. That’s what One Love is all about, so it fits like
Jenny Trewby Spruill,
From top: Shoreditch High Street is a train station in the Bethnal Green
area of London. Rex Miller and Lenny Simpson outside the entrance to the
All England Club. The Royal Box on the Wimbledon grounds. John Barrett
and his wife, Angela Mortimer Barrett, were among the club members
who saw the documentary. John Barrett is a former England Davis Cup
captain who became a tennis journalist and broadcaster. Angela Mortimer
lost to Althea Gibson in the Wimbledon ladies singles final in 1958, but
came back to win the title in 1961. Lenny Simpson and David Dougherty
in front of the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy, which was first presented by
the All England Club in 1887. JoAnn Simpson, Lenny Simpson, Rex Miller,
Carolyn McLemore and David McLemore at the podium where players
conduct post-match interviews.
To read more about One Love Tennis and Lenny Simpson, see “A Love Like No Other”
in WBM’s February 2015 edition.