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By Chris Oddo | Sunday, May 4, 2014

Elena Baltacha

Former British No. 1 Elena Baltacha has passed away due to liver cancer. She was 30.

Photo Source: Daily Star

Elena Baltacha, a former WTA No. 49 and British No. 1, has passed away just months after retiring from the sport, due to liver cancer. She had been suffering from a chronic liver condition since she was 19, and announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer of the liver in March of 2014.

The British Lawn Tennis Association's head of women's tennis Iain Bates said in a statement: "Today we have lost a shining light from the heart of British tennis - a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend.

"We have so many special memories to cherish but this leaves a gaping hole for everybody in both British and women's tennis and words simply cannot express how saddened we are by this news."

Born in the Ukraine and raised in Scotland, Baltacha held the British women's No. 1 ranking for nearly three years, and reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2002.

In her memory, the “Rally for Bally” will be held on 15 June to raise funds jointly for Royal Marsden national cancer charity and the Elena Baltacha Foundation, the charity attached to the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis. A host of stars, including Andy Murray, Ross Hutchins, Martina Navratilova, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Jamie Murray, Jonny Marray, Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson have agreed to take part in the fundraising event.

The British Lawn Tennis Association said the following about Baltacha, in a statement on its web site: “The health issues she battled since her teenage years made what she achieved during her career all the more impressive. The former British number one represented Great Britain in Fed Cup for over a decade, playing a total of 39 ties. She broke into the world’s top 50 in 2010 and amassed a total of 11 ITF titles.

"Nobody will ever forget the scenes at Wimbledon two summers ago when Bally found out she had gained a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games. There were tears of joy as she finally realised her lifelong ambition – to become an Olympian. Even after Bally hung up her rackets, she continued to give back to the sport she loved by setting up the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis.”

For more information about the Rally for Bally, click here.


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