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Roger Federer at Tanner Street Park as Nike takes over tennis courts

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer visited Tanner Street Park on Thursday - but not everyone's pleased about Nike's takeover of Bermondsey's public tennis courts.

Roger Federer at Tanner Street Park as Nike takes over tennis courts
Roger Federer took part in a Q&A session at Tanner Street Park
Roger Federer at Tanner Street Park as Nike takes over tennis courts
Roger Federer posed for a selfie

Public access to the popular tennis courts has been restricted since the beginning of the week as preparations for the Nike Court Club event began.

Criticism of the corporate takeover of the park has been voiced by posters on the SE1 forum.

"We are really excited to be able to welcome Nike and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to Southwark this week to launch a fantastic community engagement programme that will run alongside this year's highly anticipated Wimbledon Championships," said Cllr Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for public health, parks and leisure.

"Over the next 10 days there will be more than 30 hours of free LTA coaching available to local people, and lots of other active classes run by Nike at the Tanner Street courts. There will also be an amazing opportunity for many local school children to try their hand at tennis for the first time with extra special coaching from some of the sports' elite players.

"Getting into sport from a young age helps people grow into healthy, active adults. Whether they are first-timers or regulars, I hope everyone will take advantage of this chance to get involved and make the most of all that is on offer for free over the next 10 days.

"Southwark has committed to providing excellent services and facilities for residents in the face of huge and unprecedented budget cuts, and we need to find increasingly innovative ways to do so.

"The Tanner Street courts are much-loved and well-used locally which is why we were delighted when Nike offered the council a 17,500 grant to invest in the renovation of court facilities. I would like to thank Nike for this contribution to grassroots sport in Southwark, and I'm sure residents will welcome this investment in local sporting facilities."

Grange ward Lib Dem councillor Ben Johnson said: "Free tennis lessons could be great for local residents and I would urge everyone to sign up and take advantage of this.

"I do have concerns about the lack of consultation and the potential for noise from the sound system and have raised this with Nike and Southwark Council.

"I am also disappointed that the council will start charging for the tennis courts from this year. These courts, in a park founded by Dr Salter for the poor of Bermondsey, are extremely popular with residents and a real asset for our community and should be available to all residents, free of charge, throughout the year."

Federer's last public appearance in SE1 was at the House of Switzerland in Cathedral Square during the 2012 Olympic Games.

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