Tennis

Elena Baltacha passes away at the age of 30

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Elena Baltacha has died aged just 30-years-old from liver cancer.

Her family revealed the harrowing news on a sad day for tennis. Baltacha was only diagnosed with the disease in January. At the age of 13 she was found to have primary sclerosing cholangitis, a liver problem which affects the immune system.

Without letting the condition affect her, she only retired in November 2013 - weeks before she married her coach Nino Severino.

She passed away with family and friends by her side.

Severino issued the following statement: "We are heartbroken beyond words at the loss of our beautiful, talented and determined Bally.

"She was an amazing person and she touched so many people with her inspirational spirit, her warmth and her kindness."

Baltacha broke into the world's top 50 in 2010 with a successful run in which she beat the likes of Li Na and Francesca Schiavone, and achieved a career ranking high of 49.

The former British no.1 appeared numerous times at the Grand Slams, her best showings were round three turnouts at Wimbledon in 2002 and twice in Australia.

She was born in Kiev, Ukraine but was raised in Scotland when her footballing father Sergei Baltacha was transferred from Dynamo Kiev. 

In total she won 11 ITF titles and was a part of Great Britain's Fed Cup team for 11 years, right up until her retirement. 

She was also a member of Great Britain's Olympic team at London 2012. 

A hugely popular player on the British circuit, star names such as Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Martina Navratilova signed up to a fundraising event named 'Rally for Bally' after she announced the news.

As news of Baltacha's death broke, tributes came flooding in for the star.

“Today we have lost a shining light from the heart of British tennis - a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend," said Iain Bates, the women's head at the Lawn Tennis Association in a statement.

“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.

“All our thoughts are with Nino and the rest of Elena's family. We will miss you Bal.”

Baltacha set-up the 'Elena Baltacha Tennis Academy' which provided less fortunate children the chance to pursue a career in tennis. Proceeds from the 'Rally for Bally' event were to be funded into the academy and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

She turned professional in 1997 after success as a junior in which she reached two finals.

In 2000, after reaching the quarter-finals of an event in Bournemouth, Baltacha was given a wildcard entry to her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon where she was beaten in three sets by former world no.10 Flavia Pennetta.

After quarter-final appearances in numerous ITF events, she finally won a tournament in Felixstowe in 2002, the same year that she had her best run at Wimbledon.

Following that triumph she turned out at more events and regularly competed in the Grand Slams.

Her final ITF title came in the same year that she retired with a win in Nottingham.

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Tennis
Elena Baltacha

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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