Elena Baltacha dead: Tributes pour in for tennis star who has died of liver cancer, aged 30

The former British women's tennis number one died from liver disease aged 30, after being diagnosed with the illness in January

Tributes have flooded in for Elena Baltacha, the former British women’s tennis number one, who died aged 30 on Sunday.

The sports star, who was diagnosed with liver cancer in January, passed away peacefully at her home, her family said in a statement.

Her husband Nino Severino, whom she had married just months before her death, said he was “heartbroken beyond words”.

The Ukrainian-born Ms Baltacha announced her diagnosis in March, vowing to fight the cancer “with everything I have”.

She had been diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which affects the immune system, at just 19 but had managed the condition throughout her career with medication and regular blood tests.

But she fell ill in January, just months after retiring from tennis.

 

On Twitter, people that knew, loved and admired Ms Baltacha expressed their sadness and grief.

US former world number one tennis player Billie Jean King, who won 20 titles at Wimbledon, said of her fellow tennis player:

 

Paul Annacone, former men's head coach at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), tweeted:

 

And television presenter Clare Balding also paid her respects:

 

 

Labour leader Ed Miliband offered his condolences:

 

As did Olympic champion track cyclist Chris Hoy:

 

Other tennis players to pay their respects included former world number ones Chris Evert  and Martina Navratilova: 

 

Martina Navratilova also 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.“

Childhood friend and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is expected to make a statement, his agent said. A post on his official website announced the tragic news of Ms Baltacha's death.

In a statement released by her family, Mr Severino said: “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."

The previously announced “Rally for Bally” - a fundraiser due to be played in June - will now go ahead in Ms Baltacha's memory.

Murray had committed to play in the event alongside the likes of Martina Navratilova, and Tim Henman, and the money raised will go to the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read more: Elena Baltacha dead
Tennis stars turn out in support of cancer-stricken Baltacha
News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis