UEA graduate gets standing ovation at Wimbledon

Prof Sarah Gilbert Wimbledon Norwich

Biting her lip: Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert is visibly moved by the applause at Wimbledon. - Credit: UEA

A graduate from Norwich's UEA who played a key role in the development of Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine received a round of applause at the tennis tournament's centre court.

Wimbledon

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert receiving a round of applause - Credit: UEA

Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, dressed smartly in red, was visibly moved after the standing ovation from the crowd - including Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent.

Wimbledon

Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, on his feet - Credit: UEA

She had been invited with colleagues to the Royal Box on Monday for the first day of the tennis tournament.

However, a surprise was in store when the announcer stated guests present "include leaders who've developed the anti Covid vaccines." He thanked them and the NHS for making Wimbledon possible and the applause began, with spectators rising to their feet to pay tribute.

Wimbledon

The applause at Wimbledon's centre court - Credit: UEA

The claps gradually got louder as the people stood up at their places to acknowledge them and the moment went viral, being shared on Twitter, including by the UEA itself. It tweeted: "Deserved recognition for UEA graduate Prof Sarah Gilbert."

Wimbledon

The round of applause - Credit: UEA

Wimbledon's official Twitter account also shared the moment, stating: “An opening day on Centre Court with a difference...”

Prof Gilbert studied at the UEA from 1980 to 1983, graduating with a degree (BSc) in Biological Science.

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert at Wimbledon

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert at Wimbledon - Credit: UEA

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Fast forward almost four decades and she recently led the team of Oxford scientists whose vaccine offered fresh hope in the fight against coronavirus.

But were it not for a decision made in the 1980s, Prof Gilbert, now professor of vaccinology at Oxford,  may not have found herself at the centre of a worldwide effort to find the remedy for a deadly virus.

In April of this year, Prof Gilbert’s Oxford team was among the first in the world to start human trials with a view to developing an effective Covid-19 vaccine.

Prof Sarah Gilbert Norwich

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert - Credit: Archant

Their efforts couldn’t help but attract national and, subsequently, worldwide attention.