A disabled tennis player has urged young athletes to apply for awards that could help them on their way to sporting success.

The GLL Sport Foundation Awards, the UK's largest independent athlete support programme, closes its application window on February 20.

Offering financial help, sport facility access, lifestyle mentoring and physiotherapy and mental health aid, the awards are open to talented athletes in 65 areas across the UK.

Tennis star Lily Mills, who previously received an award, has qualified for the 'Persons with Intellectual Impairments' championships within the Australian Open grand slam tournament.

The 23-year-old athlete, who trains at the Islington tennis centre in Holloway, is among the eight participants competing in the three-day women's championship in Melbourne, starting on January 26.

Ms Mills, confronted with the challenges of meningitis, septicaemia, and a rare condition called galactosemia since she was a baby, has triumphed in her field since picking up a racquet at the age of five.

Ms Mills said: "I’m really excited about the new round of GSF Awards.

"For all young athletes out there like me, these awards can make a huge difference to us staying in training and competing at the highest level."

Epping Forest Guardian: Tennis star Lily Mills is a previous award winnerTennis star Lily Mills is a previous award winner (Image: Islington LB)

The scheme has so far provided £14 million and distributed 26,000 awards to young sportspeople over its 15 years of operation.

Partnering with the charitable social enterprise GLL and various sponsors, the foundation expects to dish out £1.2 million of aid in 2024.

Successful applicants will also receive access to the 250 sport and leisure facilities across the UK managed by GLL under its "Better" trading brand.

This support has proved crucial for many, with the surging costs of training, equipment, conditioning and travel.

Past recipients of GSF awards include athletes such as sprinter Daryll Neita, table tennis player Anna Hursey, cyclist Charlotte Worthington, and triathlete Alex Yee.

GLL Sport Foundation chair Peter Bundey said: "There’s still time for talented athletes across the country to apply for our awards and take advantage of a unique opportunity to reach their sporting potential.

"Previous athletes tell us the awards provide a lifeline to individuals who want to compete at the highest level."

Athletes can apply until Tuesday, February 20 via the GLL Sport Foundation website at https://www.gllsportfoundation.org