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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 teammate.
It leaves a huge hole within our sport. Bally gave new meaning to the word ‘fighter.’ She fought tirelessly during her career against opposition on court, and never gave in to the struggles she endured off it. Forever remembered for her relentless determination, unbelievable drive and a will-power that never ceased to amaze us, it was a pleasure to watch Bally develop into a world class player and become an outstanding role model for everyone in the game.
With her enthusiasm, spirit and passion for life, she was a pure joy to be around, and having recently just got married to her husband Niño Severino, she was embarking on a new chapter in her life. 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.
Through this legacy, her passion to support and enable young children to play and enjoy tennis will live on, and British Tennis will endeavour to finish what she started. Thank you Bally, for everything you have done, and congratulations on everything you achieved. We were so fortunate to have you be part of our sport, and we will miss you greatly. Our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time are with Bally’s husband Niño, as well as Bally’s family and close friends.
LTA Head of Women’s Tennis Iain Bates said: “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. All our thoughts are with Niño and the rest of Elena's family. We will miss you Bal.”
For more information on the ‘Rally for Bally’ which aims to raise funds for the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, as well as the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, please click here. Thank you so much to everybody who has already kindly donated. Every penny raised will go towards supporting these incredible causes, and if you are able to donate, then please go to www.justgiving.com/RallyForBally or text EBAL60 plus the amount you would like to donate to 70070 (e.g. EBAL60 £10 to donate £10). Thank you.