Elena Baltacha vows to battle liver cancer as Heather Watson and Judy Murray among those who offer support

The former British number one announced the news on Friday that she had been diagnosed with cancer of the liver

Heather Watson and Judy Murray were among those to offer support to Elena Baltacha following her diagnosis of liver cancer.

The former British number one, who retired from tennis in November and married coach Nino Severino the following month, announced the news on Friday afternoon.

The 30-year-old said in a statement: "I have recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver.

"I'm currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have."

Messages of support quickly flooded in and Watson added her voice to the chorus of well wishes following her defeat by Agnieszka Radwanska at the BNP Paribas Open.

The British number three said: "It's terrible news to hear, and it must be so tough for her. I just wish her all the best. A good recovery. We'll all be thinking of her.

"I played doubles with her and won in Fed Cup in Sweden. I have been around her a lot. And especially being British and British tennis, all of us girls are very close.

"We will be sending our thoughts and prayers out to her. She has a real fighting spirit."

Fed Cup captain Murray has known Baltacha since she was a child starting out in the game in Scotland.

Latterly the pair have worked closely together in connection with Baltacha's tennis academy in Ipswich.

Murray told http://www.lta.org.uk: "Obviously this is a tough time for Bally, Nino and her family but she is a such a determined, upbeat person and everyone around her is staying positive as well.

"I know she'll be really grateful for all the support that she's getting."

Baltacha was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.

Ukraine-born, she won 11 singles titles, reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and the same stage of the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010.

Daughter of former Ipswich, St Mirren and Inverness footballer Sergei, she reached a career-high ranking of 49 in 2010 and was British number one for 132 weeks between 2009 and 2012.

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

Baltacha's long-time Fed Cup team-mate, rival and friend Anne Keothavong and current British number one Laura Robson both sent messages on Twitter.

Keothavong wrote: "She's one of the people I most admire for her courage and determination. You'll fight through this ElenaBaltacha xxx."

Robson tweeted: "Sending so many positive vibes your way Bally! You've got this xx"

Stacey Allaster, the chairman and chief executive of the WTA, expressed her support for Baltacha, saying: "The WTA family sends its thoughts and prayers to Elena and her husband Nino at this difficult time.

"Throughout her tennis career, Elena was admired for her friendly personality, her passion, energy and tenacity. We know she will use these qualities to fight this illness and we'll support her along this process in any way we can."

Baltacha can look to Great Britain Davis Cup player Ross Hutchins for inspiration.

The 29-year-old, this week appointed the new tournament director of London's AEGON Championships, returned to action earlier this year with doubles partner Colin Fleming after recovering from Hodgkin's lymphoma - a form of cancer.

Hutchins was diagnosed with the illness in December 2012 but announced he was in remission in July.

PA

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.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor