When she was born, Islington teenager Lily Mills was given a 50% chance of survival. Diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Galactosaemia, which blocks the conversion of galactose to glucose and can be fatal, she spent a week on life support at Great Ormond Street Hospital. But not only did Lily survive, she thrived.
After watching her brother play tennis, she started to play, aged 5. At 12, she began to take it seriously. Now the 17 year old, who has learning difficulties and trains at the Islington Tennis Centre, is preparing for her first international tennis tournament, the Special Olympic World Games in Abu Dhabi next year.
“We’re extremely proud of Lily and everything she’s achieved and continues to achieve,”
says Joachim Treasurer, Tennis Manager, Islington Tennis Centre. “She is the perfect example of what can be achieved against all the odds.”
According to her coach, Diego Siqueira, Lily’s progress has been exceptional over the last year and at the ITC she trains in squads with non-disabled players.
“To go toe to toe with them on the court is truly an amazing feat and shows her determination and passion for tennis,” says Joachim. “We’re sure that Lily is going to continue her journey in tennis for many years to come and can’t wait to be with her every step of the way.”
As happens so often in sport, tennis has been key in giving Lily confidence, self-esteem and the opportunity to achieve. “I love competing, training and I have made many friends,” says Lily.
“I love being in the squads at Islington Tennis Centre with my friends and I want to get better.”
Would she encourage other people to have a go? “Knowing Lily,” says her mum, Tallulah Bailey, “knowing her love of tennis and how competitive she is, she would support anyone who gets on court to play a match!”
Lily is fundraising to get to Abu Dhabi and has so far raised £3210 of her £6000 target. To donate, visit https://uk.gofundme.com/getlilytothespecialolympics2019