Elena Baltacha Dies: British Tennis Champ Succumbs to Liver Cancer at 30

Image: Elena Baltacha Dies: British Tennis Champ Succumbs to Liver Cancer at 30 In this 2012 file photo Elena Baltacha of Great Britain returns a shot in Indian Wells, California.

Monday, 05 May 2014 03:42 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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British tennis champion Elena Baltacha died Sunday at age 30 of liver cancer.

Baltacha, who was the No. 1 British tennis player for three years, was diagnosed with the disease in January and spoke publicly about her illness in March.

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“We are heartbroken beyond words at the loss of our beautiful, talented and determined Bally," her husband, Nino Severino, told the BBC. "She was an amazing person and she touched so many people with her inspirational spirit, her warmth and her kindness."

Severino and Baltacha had been married only two weeks when she discovered she had cancer.

She played most of her career with primary sclerosing cholangitis, which is a chronic liver condition she was diagnosed with at age 19.

Baltacha won 11 singles titles, reached the third round at Wimbledon in 2002 and was on Great Britain’s Fed Cup team for more than a decade.

"Today (Sunday) we have lost a shining light from the heart of British tennis — a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend,” Lawn Tennis Association head of women's tennis Iain Bates told the BBC. “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.

Many in the tennis world went online to offer their condolences and talk about Baltacha’s impact on tennis.

Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, tweeted:

Baltacha was born in Ukraine but lived her youth in Scotland.

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