Tributes to Former British No.1 Elena Baltacha who has died aged 30

We are sad to report that the former British number one tennis player Elena Baltacha has died of liver cancer, aged 30.

Baltacha learned she had liver cancer in mid-January 2014, two months after retiring from professional tennis and only a few weeks after marrying her coach Nino Severino.

Baltacha was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system, aged 19.  Despite this, Baltacha won 11 singles titles, made the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and the Australian Open third round in 2005 and 2010.

She reached a career-high world ranking of 49 in 2010 and held the British No. 1 spot for three years between 2009 and 2012.  She was part of Great Britain’s Fed Cup team for over a decade playing in 39 ties.  Members and fans will recall seeing her play many times here at the Aegon Classic.

Leyla Ogan, Racquets Manager, at Edgbaston Priory Club paid tribute to her saying:

“Elena was an inspirational role model for the sport – a constant fighter on and off the court. She was held in such high respect within the world of tennis and wherever she went she gathered armies of fans who warmed to her enthusiasm and determination. Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends at this incredibly sad time. We will miss you Bally.”

Rally for Bally

An exhibition match featuring Martina Navratilova, Tim Henman, Jamie Murray and Anne Keothavong will take place on 15th June – finals day of the Aegon Classic – in memory of Elena Baltacha and to raise funds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis.   Exhibition matches will also take place at the at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club and the Aegon International in Eastbourne on the same day.

Queen’s Club tournament director and Great Britain Davis Cup player Hutchins, who is in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, told BBC Sport today:

“We all wanted the Rally for Bally to lift Elena, but now this special event will be held in memory of Elena.

“She was a special person who will be remembered for positive things; a hard worker, a true professional and someone who gave so much back to the sport of tennis.”

You can support Rally for Bally by buying a ticket for finals day at the Aegon Classic and/or by making a donation to www.justgiving.com/RallyForBally  or text EBAL60 plus the amount you would like to donate to 70070 (e.g. EBAL60 £10 to donate £10). Thank you

Tributes for Elena Baltacha

Tributes have been flowing in for Elena Baltacha…

Iain Bates, the Lawn Tennis Association’s head of women’s tennis, said: “We have lost a shining light from the heart of British tennis – a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend.

“We have so many special memories to cherish, but this leaves a gaping hole for everybody in both British and women’s tennis, and words simply cannot express how saddened we are by this news.”

Martina Navratilova said:
“Elena Baltacha was a great fighter on the tennis court. We as tennis players always worry about our bodies, trying to keep injuries at bay.  But cancer – you can’t prevent that and you can’t rehab it either – and no matter how much of a fighter you are, sometimes cancer wins. Elena was taken from the world much too soon – fighting to the end and we will miss her.”

Stacey Allaster, chairman and chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, said:

“Elena’s journey was never an easy one and yet she consistently showed her strength, good humour and indomitable spirit.”