Tennis stars past and present pay tribute to Elena Baltacha, who has died aged 30

Last Updated: 06/05/14 6:06am

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Elena Baltacha with Fed Cup captain Judy Murray in 2012

Elena Baltacha with Fed Cup captain Judy Murray in 2012

Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova led the tributes for former British No 1 Elena Baltacha, who has died at the age of 30 from liver cancer.

Baltacha was diagnosed with the illness in January, just two months after retiring and only weeks after she married her long-time coach Nino Severino.

Tennis great King, 70, who won 39 grand slam titles, tweeted: "Saddened to hear about Elena Baltacha's passing.

"My fondest memory w/Bally was sharing a wonderful chat when we met the Queen at @Wimbledon."

Another legend of the women's game, 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."

World No 1 Serena Williams tweeted: "My deepest prayers, thoughts, concern, and love goes out to Elena Baltacha's family."

World No 1 in the men's rankings Rafa Nadal tweeted: "Very sad to hear that Elena Baltacha passed away. RIP."

Andy Murray posted the news on his official website, and included the statement from her husband Severino, which read: "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's former coach Jo Durie hailed the Scot as a "fighter".

"She fought on the tennis court and she had problems she had to fight for the rest of her life," Durie said on Sky News.

"She didn't find out about the condition until she was about 19, she had to fight through that as well but she always took such a positive view of everything.

"She was just a fighter, I think that's what everyone would say about Bally."

Great Britain Fed Cup team-mate Laura Robson tweeted: "Impossibly sad. Forever a teammate. Sweet dreams Bally."

British No 3 Heather Watson said: "We've lost our lovely Bally, too young. Rest in peace. My thought are with Nino and all of her family xx."


Other fellow professionals also paid tribute to the 30-year-old, who had dealt with a liver condition - primary sclerosing cholangitis - diagnosed at the age of 19, throughout her career.

Serbia's Ana Ivanovic tweeted: "So sad to hear about Elena. Tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with family... #RIPBally."

Belgian star Kirsten Flipkens said: "Such a sad news to wake up with :-( R.I.P Elena Baltacha.. My thoughts and condolence go out to her family.. #notfair."

World number four Victoria Azarenka tweeted: "RIP Elena Baltacha...My thoughts and condolences to her family! what a tough loss for tennis world."

"We are heartbroken beyond words at the loss of our beautiful, talented and determined Bally."
Nino Severino

Former world No 1 Kim Clijsters said on her account: "So sad to wake up to the terrible news of Elena passing away! RIP Bally! Thinking about her loved ones ..."

Wimbledon 2012 champion Petra Kvitova said on her account: "Just woke up in Madrid. So sad to hear the news about Elena Baltacha :( RIP."

Another former world No 1, Chris Evert, who won 18 grand slam singles titles in the 1970s and 80s, wrote on Twitter: "Rest in Peace, beautiful Elena Baltacha...No words...Thoughts and prayers..."

Two-time grand slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova tweeted: "I have nothing to say, so empty.. RIP Elena... Not fair thoughts goes to her family .. She was such a beautiful person .."

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki tweeted: "So sad to hear about Elena Baltacha! RIP! Thoughts go out to her family and loved ones!"

Paul Annacone, former men's head coach at the LTA, tweeted: "Absolutely heartbreaking news to hear about Elena Baltacha. Bally, you will be sorely missed."

"Elena was taken from the world much too soon - fighting to the end, and we will miss her."
Martina Navratilova

And former world No 1 Lindsay Davenport said: "Just awful: Elena Baltacha has passed away from liver cancer."

Last year's Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli said on her Twitter account: "I have no worlds to describe my sadness. RIP @ElenaBaltacha."

American star Bethanie Mattek-Sands said: "Saddened and humbled this afternoon to hear that we lost a member of the @WTA family. Elena Baltacha will truly be missed!!"

Australian Casey Dellacqua added: "So saddened to hear the news of Bally's passing. The tennis world will miss you. Thoughts are with her family & friends."

Rising star Donna Vekic said: "So sad to hear Elena Baltacha has passed away. Tragic. Thoughts and prayers with her family."

Belgian Yannina Wickmayer tweeted: "So sad to hear about Elena.. She was such a great person.. My thoughts are with her friends and family..."

Russian former world No 1 Dinara Safina said: "My thoughts and prayers are with her family...RIP."

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