Islington Council is supporting local tennis star Lily Mills as she qualifies for the Australian Open’s Persons with Intellectual Impairments (PWII) Championships, with a donation of over £2,000.
Lily, a 23-year-old athlete who trains at the Islington Tennis Centre, will be one of eight contenders in the women’s 2024 PWII Championships at Melbourne Park from January 26 to 28.
As a baby, Lily was diagnosed with meningitis and septicaemia, as well as the rare condition galactosemia, which occurs in just one in 45,000 people. These early complications left Lily with cognitive impairments, including learning disabilities, short-term memory loss, poor coordination, and a tremor.
Despite huge barriers, Lily’s passion for tennis has only grown stronger. From picking up a racket at the age of five, she has amassed numerous trophies and medals at regional, national, and international levels.
Lily’s remarkable dedication and passion is a testament to the power of sport in promoting inclusivity and empowerment and, upon hearing Lily’s story, the council decided to support her fundraiser to raise money for the trip to the Championships in Australia.
Cllr Nurullah Turan, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Health and Social Care, said: “We’re determined to create a more equal Islington, where everyone can enjoy the mental, physical, and social benefits of staying active.
“When we heard about Lily’s story, we were inspired by her commitment to tennis, and were delighted to be able to help.
“I would also like to extend my thanks to the Islington Leisure Team for helping to see this through and for supporting Lily on her remarkable journey.”
Lily’s mother, Tallulah Bayley, shared her thoughts on the significance of this journey, saying: “This opportunity means the world to Lily, and we are overjoyed to be heading to Melbourne later this month.
“The funding and support from Islington Council have played a crucial role in making this dream a reality. We’re also so grateful to the tennis community who have rallied around Lily to make this journey possible.
“Lily’s journey not only represents a personal triumph but also stands as a symbol of inclusivity and empowerment in sports.”