Posted: Monday 5th May 2014 at 0:36 am

Elena Baltacha: Former British number one dies of liver cancer


Former British number one tennis player Elena Baltacha has died of liver cancer, aged 30.

Born in Ukraine and raised in Scotland, Baltacha revealed she had the illness in March.

Baltacha, who was British number one for nearly three years, only retired from the sport in 2013.

“We are heartbroken beyond words at the loss of our beautiful, talented and determined Bally,” said her husband Nino Severino.

He added: “She was an amazing person and she touched so many people with her inspirational spirit, her warmth and her kindness.”

She was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis,  a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system, aged 19.

Despite her illness and multiple injury problems, she went on to reach the Australian Open third round in 2005 and 2010 and reached a career-high world ranking of 49.

She won 11 singles titles, made the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and was part of Great Britain’s Fed Cup team for 11 years.

Lawn Tennis Association head of women’s tennis Iain Bates said: “Today 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.

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

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