Tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles, who raised $30,000 for the Starship Foundation this week, yesterday provided inspiration for sick children at Starship Hospital.
Seles and Navratilova, who are in New Zealand for two exhibition matches, spent an hour and a half at the children’s hospital and were obviously captivated by the the children.
“I can’t believe we’re in a hospital,” Navratilova said as she admired the Starship’s cheery decorations and airy layout.
The pair, two of the greatest women players of all time, with 67 Grand Slam titles between them, took time to flex their muscles on a hastily erected mini tennis court. When the patients were told to join in there was an enthusiastic response.
“We even had patients that were temporarily in wheelchairs hop up and have a go, just to say they had played with Monica Seles and Martina Navratilova,” Starship Foundation chief executive Andrew Young said.
“We also had a lot of staff that were queuing up as well.
“A lot of children recognised they were famous sports stars and definitely from the vibes they were getting from their parents and staff they knew that these two ladies were quite special.”
Navratilova was particularly taken by one youngster who ignored the drip attached to his right arm and insisted he play with his left hand, despite being right-handed.
Seles and Navratilova then visited the cancer unit.
The Starship Foundation was presented with a cheque for $30,000 at Tuesday night’s exhibition match in Auckland. The money was raised at a dinner on Waiheke Island where Seles and Navratilova were the guests of honour.
The final exhibition match will be tonight in Christchurch.