sport

Stars rally for Baltacha

Andy Murray, Martina Navratilova and Tim Henman will lead an all-star line up at exhibition matches in three of the country's biggest tournaments as British Tennis stages a second Rally Against Cancer charity event.

The 'Rally For Bally,' on Sunday, June 15, will feature three mixed doubles matches on finals day at three of Britain's major grass court tournaments.

The three Aegon-sponsored events -the Championships at Queen's Club, the Classic in Birmingham and International at Eastbourne - will host the events with proceeds being split equally between the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis.

Baltacha, also known as 'Bally,' revealed recently that she had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

Murray and Aegon Championships Tournament Director Ross Hutchins will play on opposing mixed doubles teams at the Queen's Club, Martina Navratilova, Anne Keothavong, Tim Henman and Jamie Murray will line-up play in Birmingham, and Greg Rusedski and Jonny Marray will be on opposite teams in Eastbourne.

Britain's three highest ranked women, Laura Robson, Jo Konta and Heather Watson, will also take part, with the specific line-up of teams to be announced at a later date.

Hutchins, who underwent treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma last year at The Royal Marsden and worked on the first Rally Against Cancer event at The Queen's Club in 2013, said: "We are determined to do everything we can to raise as much money as possible for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity to fight against cancer and for the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which means so much to Bally.

"As soon as the news of Bally's diagnosis came out, everyone in British Tennis, and indeed around the world, wanted to help, and that is shown by how quickly all the British players and players from around the world, including one of the all-time greats in Martina, wanted to be part of it.

Support

"We will have all three of our recent Wimbledon champions - Andy and Jamie Murray, and Jonny Marray, one at each venue, and I hope everyone will get behind this cause in just the same way as last year."

Judy Murray, the Great Britain Fed Cup captain, said: "Everyone in tennis knows and loves Bally and wants to help her, and sadly everyone's life is touched by cancer at some stage, whether personally or through friends and family.

"The Royal Marsden helps so many people in that situation. Bally set up her charity to help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds learn to play tennis, which says a lot about her. It will mean the world to her to know that it is being supported as well."

Cally Palmer, Chief Executive of the Royal Marsden, said: "I am delighted that British Tennis and the Queen's Club is once again coming together to support The Royal Marsden.

"Their support enables us to continue to provide world-class cancer care for our patients, and cancer patients across the UK."

Navratilova, who battled and overcame breast cancer in 2010, added: "Cancer is an opponent that we all must fight against.

"My thoughts are with Elena and what she must be going through at this time. It is great that the tennis world is coming together to support her, and to rally against cancer."

In 2013, in the first Rally Against Cancer fundraiser, Murray and Henman played a doubles match against Ivan Lendl and Tomas Berdych on finals day at the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club.

This match also featured a number of celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Sir Richard Branson, Boris Johnson, Jimmy Carr, Michael McIntyre and Eddie Redmayne.