Elena Baltacha dead: Andy Murray 'heartbroken' as tributes pour in

The former British number one died yesterday age 30

Billie Jean King led the tributes that have been pouring in for former British number one Elena Baltacha, who lost her battle with liver cancer on Sunday morning at the age of 30.

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

A statement released by her family said Baltacha died peacefully at home.

Former tennis great, 70-year-old King, who won 39 grand slam titles, was moved to hear of Baltacha's death and said on her Twitter account: "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."

Andy Murray posted the news on his official website http://www.andymurray.com including 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 had retired from professional tennis last November after a career which had seen her ranked as the British No. 1 for 132 weeks, from December 2009 to June 2012.

Her highest singles rank was 49, which she reached in September 2010.

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

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 with medication and regular blood tests.

Despite the disruption it caused, she went on to win 11 singles titles, reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and the same stage of the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010.

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

Kirsten Flipkens told her Twitter account: "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."

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 told her account: "Just woke up in Madrid. So sad to hear the news about Elena Baltacha :( RIP."

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

Current world number 49 Svetlana Kuznetsova tweeted: "I have nothing to say, so empty.. RIP Elena... Not fair ...my thoughts goes to her family .. She was such a beautiful person .."

The daughter of former Ipswich, St Mirren and Inverness footballer Sergei, she represented Great Britain for 11 years in the Fed Cup and also played in the London Olympics in 2012.

However, she struggled with injury and illness during her career and ankle problems eventually forced her to retire.

After deciding to quit the professional game, she had been coaching junior tennis players at her Ipswich-based academy prior to her illness.

Navratilova, an 18-time grand slam singles champion who announced in 2010 that she had made a full recovery after being diagnosed with breast cancer, paid her own tribute to Baltacha.

She said in a statement: "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."

Czech player Lucie Safarova, who has won four singles titles on the WTA Tour, tweeted: "R.I.P. Elena Baltacha. :-( too sad, My thoughts are with her family! :-( "

The Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis (EBAT) paid tribute on its Facebook page: "It is with deep regret we have the sad news of announcing to you in the early hours of this morning, Elena sadly lost her fight against liver cancer.

"Our thoughts are with Elena's husband, Nino, family & friends. xxxxx."

PA

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power