Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
London: The former British number one, Elena Baltacha died of liver cancer Sunday. The Scot revealed she had the illness in March. She was 30.
Despite the illness, which was diagnosed in January and several other injury problems, Baltacha went on to reach the Australian Open third round in 2005 and 2010 and was once ranked 49th in the world in September 2010.
She was a regular member of the Great Britain`s Federation Cup team for more than a decade, and also won 11 singles titles. In the home Slam – Wimbledon, her best performance came in 2002, reaching the third round. Born to the former Ipswich, St Mirren and Inverness footballer Sergei, she was ranked as the British number one for 132 weeks, from December 2009 to June 2012.
After her retirement, she was running the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis in her home town of Ipswich, which occupied her time as a coach of young prospects. The academy has as many as 70 schoolgirls, many of whom are nationally ranked.
Starting as a promising player, her raise in the Tour witnessed frequent disturbances. At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system. She also underwent surgery on a bone spur in her ankle in 2012, it was the fourth such operations in an injury-wracked career.
She and her long time coach Severino, whom she married in December, had been organising `Rally for Bally` – a series of charity events. This year, in June the event will feature her childhood friend Andy Murray and hosts of legends like Martina Navratilova, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Ross Hutchins and former team-mates Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson.
In a statement, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) -- governing body of tennis in Great Britain, said: "Today British Tennis mourns the loss of one of our own. The news of the death of Elena Baltacha, one of the shining lights of British women`s tennis of recent generations, is devastating to everyone who has ever had the privilege to know her, play against her or call her a friend or team-mate.
"The health issues she battled since her teenage years made what she achieved during her career all the more impressive."
Baltacha was looking for a comeback and competed in the 2012 London Olympics, losing to Ana Ivanovic in the women`s singles second round. She also represented Great Britain in Fed Cup for the last time last year, against Argentina.
With Agency inputs