Sharapova backs parks tennis in Birmingham

By on 07/06/2010 in News

Maria Sharapova was the guest of honour at the unveiling of a tennis mural in Birmingham's Cotteridge Park on Saturday.

The former world number put the finishing touch to the graffiti design to celebrate tennis coming to the city and the start of the AEGON Classic.

The AEGON Classic, which runs from 7-14 June, takes place at the Edgbaston Priory Club and marks the start of the British Tennis Series.

Sharapova will be returning to the AEGON Classic in a bid to secure the coveted Maud Watson Trophy for a third time and will be joining the likes of defending champion Magdalena Rybarikova, Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer and British number one Elena Baltacha The 2009 semi-finalist is seeded 2nd for the tournament and says it's the perfect preparation for Wimbledon Championships later in the month.

“I’m very fond of coming to Birmingham for the AEGON Classic. I always get a warm welcome from the crowd and there's a really nice relaxed atmosphere here.

“It's a great opportunity to work on my grass court game and I hope I can put in a strong performance ahead of Wimbledon.”

During her visit, Sharapova took part in a Q&A session with a group of girls from the park to highlight the importance of encouraging more girls to get involved and stay in the sport. The Russian superstar said; “Tennis has always been a big part of my life. It is a great sport for girls to enjoy and play at any age.”

The 2004 Wimbledon champion was joined by Judy Murray, to see firsthand the strength of parks tennis in Birmingham. Judy supports the Lawn Tennis Association's (LTA) drive to grow the game from the grass roots up and said; “The children here are all different levels. There are some that have played a bit of tennis before and there are loads that have never played before. It's brilliant to see them all mixing in together and having the best time. It's been really fun, so well done Birmingham.”

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture for Birmingham City Council said; “We're delighted to welcome Maria Sharapova and Judy Murray to Cotteridge Park to help raise the profile of parks tennis in the city. Our aim is to make Birmingham a beacon city for tennis and we are committed to engaging at grass roots level and offering affordable tennis for all.”

The Councillor added; “Maria is a great role model, in particular for girls taking up the sport. Her visit to Cotteridge Park will give all the players a real boost and we wish her all the best for the forthcoming AEGON Classic.”

More information on the For more information on the AEGON Classic, visit the official tournament website – www.aegonclassic.co.uk  

To purchase tickets for the AEGON Classic, visit the tickets area on the official tournament website.

Keep up to date with the AEGON Classic on Twitter @AEGONClassic

Follow British tennis on Twitter @Britishtennis

Download the AEGON Britsh Tennis Series iPhone App

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