Covering Wimbledon: My sports journalism career highlight
Covering Wimbledon is a fantastic gig for any early-career sports journalist, but for a lifelong tennis fan, it’s a dream come true.
Here, multimedia sports journalist Oli Dickson Jefford shares how he got the opportunity to cover Wimbledon, only a year after finishing his News Associates sports journalism course.
I’ve been a huge tennis fan for half my life, and ever since I decided I wanted to be a sports journalist, covering Wimbledon was one of my main goals.
I joined multimedia sports news agency Sportsbeat after graduating from News Associates last summer.
In 2021, I covered the event remotely, interviewing players and attending press conferences over Zoom, but this year I was fortunate enough to go in person.
It was an incredible experience and something that felt like a real privilege after the past couple of years we’ve had.
I was in Roehampton for four days of qualifying action before heading to the All England Club for two weeks for the main event.
For me, the biggest challenge was the volume of content you sometimes have to produce. Key skills I learnt studying for my NCTJ – identifying the key line, writing copy to specific word counts and deadlines and being able to ask the right questions – proved incredibly valuable for this.
Being able to hit word counts, deadlines, and client briefs is particularly key – on busy and long days you save yourself a lot of time by getting these right the first time!
A nice bonus from working at events in person is getting to form relationships with the people around you, whether these are other journalists, media officials or even players.
Working somewhere where you get to know the people and the people know you creates a nice working atmosphere and definitely makes your life a lot easier as the fortnight progresses.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend Wimbledon four times as a fan and while you’re not always able to watch a massive amount of tennis, it’s still very special to be on courtside when you can.
In particular, sitting in the Centre Court press section for the first time – for Katie Boulter’s victory over Karolina Pliskova – was a particularly special moment, as was sitting on Court 1 for Heather Watson’s third round win.
However, the most special moment was getting to cover the women’s final between Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur, and attending their press conferences after.
When you get to do something special like that, it really does make all the long days seem worth it and adds the icing on the cake.
If I hadn’t been working at Sportsbeat, it would have been unlikely that I would have had this experience so quickly after finishing my NCTJ at News Associates, so I am grateful to have had this opportunity.
There were certainly ups and downs, but ultimately it was an experience which will help me become a better journalist in the long run and one I’m unlikely to forget for a while!
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