Dame Sarah Gilbert, one of the scientists who worked to create the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, was given a standing ovation at Wimbledon as she watched the first day of the championship from the Royal Box on Centre Court.
The crowd applauded and cheered the jab co-designer and her colleagues along with medical staff and other “inspirational individuals”, in honour of their work to defeat Covid.
Hannah Ingram-Moore, daughter of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised more than £32 million for the NHS, was also in the stands.
Announcers paid tribute to the “important work” done by keyworkers before the first game on Centre Court between defending champion Novak Djokovic and 19-year-old Jack Draper from the UK.
Dame Sarah was joined by the Duke of Kent and former British racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart.
Ms Ingram-Moore smiled widely and waved as her father’s name received cheers.
Tributes were also paid after the match, led by the Prime Minister and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter: “An inspiring moment at Centre Court today as spectators thanked those who have contributed so much in our fight against Covid-19.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have saved lives and helped us on the road back to normality.”
A tweet from the official Kensington Royal account said: “Thank you Dame Sarah Gilbert and the incredible team that developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.”
Organisers have issued hundreds of free tickets to keyworkers throughout the tournament to say thank you for their work during the pandemic.
“In order to say thank you, the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club) has provided 100 daily Centre and No1 Court tickets to various groups ranging from the NHS to Transport For London… and other inspirational individuals, all in recognition of the service they have provided to those in their communities throughout the pandemic,” the organisation said on its website.
Those attending the All England Club were hit by a delay to proceedings due to the poor weather in London.
Rain stopped any play taking place before 1pm on Monday but the it was worth the wait for many as they witnessed Djokovic defeat Brit Draper, who started well by winning the first set against the world No 1 before eventually succumbing to the Serb.