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Kate greets junior players as she arrives at Wimbledon for ladies final

The Duchess of Cambridge meets Wimbledon staff Rachel Williams and Dave Tulloch (PA)
The Duchess of Cambridge meets Wimbledon staff Rachel Williams and Dave Tulloch (PA)

The Duchess of Cambridge has greeted junior players and staff as she arrived at Wimbledon for the historic ladies single final.

Kate, patron of the All England Club, looked summery in a yellow Roksanda dress as she greeted the group in the Millennium building on Saturday before walking across the bridge to Centre Court, where she will watch Saturday’s match in the royal box.

The duchess spoke with two semi-finalists in the inaugural 14 and under junior championships – Great Britain’s Isabelle Britton, 14, and the USA’s Carel Ngounoue, 13.

The group could be heard talking about British number one Cameron Norrie’s loss in the semi-final on Friday, with Kate saying: “He had such a good game, he really did.”

Afterwards, the youngsters said they also talked with Kate about their experience playing at Wimbledon and she congratulated them on getting so far.

Carel said: “She asked us how our experience was here and if we’re hoping to play here when we get older – like the actual competition.

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Thirteen – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Kate meets young players Isabelle Britton and Carel Ngounoue (PA)

“It’s definitely an honour to meet her, it’s great to have this opportunity to meet someone so important.”

Isabelle said: “She was saying that it was good that we were getting this far, that it’s a really good experience for the future as well.”

The duchess also talked to Gabia Sakaviciute, 13, who was nominated to do the coin toss by charity Jigsaw4U for caring for family and neighbours during the pandemic, and 19-year-old coin designer Edward Roberts.

Mr Roberts showed her the coin and they discussed its design before Kate said to Gabia: “It must have been so proud a moment when you heard you had been selected.”

Gabia later told the PA news agency that Kate was “really sweet” and a “kind person who brings up the mood”, adding: “I’m surprised what a normal chat it was.”

The duchess also spoke to two staff members – guest services host Rachael Williams and estate management support Dave Tulloch – who were acknowledged for going above and beyond during the tournament.

She told them: “What an amazing event to be a part of.”

History will be made at Wimbledon on Saturday with Tunisian player Ons Jabeur and Russian-born Elena Rybakina, who is representing Kazakhstan, both attempt to win their maiden grand-slam title.

The duo had never made it beyond the quarter-finals of a major before this summer but they have had SW19 spectators on their feet applauding their contrasting styles.

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Thirteen – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The Duchess of Cambridge met Gabia Sakaviciute and Edward Roberts (PA)

As patron, the Duchess of Cambridge will present trophies to both the winner and runner-up in a ceremony on Centre Court after the match.

This means she will be presenting a trophy to Moscow-born Rybakina in a year in which Russians and Belarusians are banned from Wimbledon due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Also expected in the royal box at Wimbledon to watch the final is a host of former ladies champions, including Billie Jean King, Martina Hingis and Angela Mortimer.

Actors Tom Cruise, Jodie Comer and Dame Maggie Smith will also watch the action alongside Kate in the royal box.

Third seed Jabeur, 27, is favourite given her standing as the world number two and success on Centre Court would see her become the first woman from an Arab country and the continent of Africa to win a grand slam singles title.

Rybakina is also attempting to make history by becoming the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a major, but her appearance is not without controversy.

The 23-year-old was born and raised in Russia and played under the flag of her birth country until 2018 when the lure of greater funding from Kazakhstan saw her switch international allegiance.

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Thirteen – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The Duchess of Cambridge and Ian Hewitt, AELTC chairman, cross the players’ bridge towards Centre Court (PA)

On the prospect of meeting Kate, Rybakina said: “It’s an honour and I’m going to be very excited for this moment no matter if I win or lose. I think it’s just something to remember and it’s going to be amazing.”

Rybakina had flown under the radar this summer but it was after success over Ajla Tomljanovic in the quarter-finals that her Russian background came under scrutiny.

The 17th seed did call for the war in Ukraine to “stop as soon as possible”, but questions about her alleged continued residence in Moscow, following an excellent last-four win over Simona Halep, were answered coyly.

She responded: “I think I’m based on tour because I’m traveling every week.”

The Duchess of Cambridge attended Wimbledon earlier in the week with the Duke of Cambridge to watch the men’s quarter-final matches – Novak Djokovic against Jannik Sinner and Cameron Norrie against David Goffin.

William and Kate, who was wearing a blue polka dot dress and pearl earrings, stood up out of their seats to cheer for the British number one Norrie after he secured a place in the semi-final by beating Belgium’s Goffin.

British hopes for a singles winner came to an end on Friday when Norrie was knocked out by top seed Djokovic in a tense match on Centre Court.