Elena Baltacha's father on the death of his daughter: ‘I still wake up hoping it was all a bad dream’

Sergei Baltacha talks about the late tennis star for the first time since her death

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The Independent Online

Elena Baltacha’s father says that it’s “too painful” to attend Wimbledon events celebrating the life and legacy of his late daughter.

The tennis player died on 4 May from liver cancer aged just 30, after being diagnosed in January. She married her coach Nino Severino just weeks before in December.

Yellow "Rally for Bally" wristbands are currently on sale at Wimbledon to raise money for Baltacha's Academy of Tennis, which provides tennis training for local schools.

 “We have had several invitations this year, including to attend some of the events honouring Elena, but we both declined,” said Sergei Baltacha, talking for the first time since the death of his daughter.

“Everything there, from the scoreboards to the ground staff we’ve come to know over the years, would remind us too much that she is no longer here."

Baltacha’s funeral was held on 19 May in her hometown Ipswich. Mourners included Tim Henman, Annabel Croft, Laura Robson and Judy Murray, who coached Baltacha as a junior.

“I still wake up hoping it was all a bad dream, expecting she’s going to call me to say, ‘Dad, let’s organise a barbecue,’” said her father.

"We miss her positive approach to life and her sunny smile. She was so full of joy.

“I can’t even cope with watching the matches on television, even though I love Andy Murray and want him to win again.”