Elena Baltacha tragically passed away from liver cancer at the age of 30, less than six months after retiring from pro tennis.
By McCarton Ackerman, USTA.com
Past and present members of Team USA are speaking out on the death of former WTA player Elena Baltacha, who passed away on Sunday morning from liver cancer. She was 30 years old.
Baltacha retired from the tour last November and married her longtime coach, Nino Severino, the following month. Tragically, the British player was diagnosed with liver cancer in January. Despite vowing to fight her illness “with everything I have,” she passed away peacefully and surrounded by loved ones.
“Elena's journey was never an easy one and yet she consistently showed her strength, good humor and indomitable spirit. The WTA was blessed to have such a champion compete and represent women's tennis,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the WTA. "I am honored that I had the opportunity to know Elena, to call her 'Bally' as her friends do. She was a gift that was taken from us too soon; she will be deeply missed."
During her 16-year career on tour, Baltacha achieved a career- high ranking of No. 49 in 2010 and won 11 ITF Pro Circuit singles title. She also represented Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics. She competed in the main draw of the US Open on two occasions, reaching the second round in 2010 and 2011, and advanced to the final round of qualifying last year.
Her legacy will carry on through the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which she founded to help give kids from disadvantaged backgrounds a chance to learn the sport. A series of charity tennis exhibitions called Rally for Bally will be held in her memory throughout Great Britain on June 15, featuring 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray.
Read on to find out what American players both past and present had to say via Twitter about her tragic passing.
Serena Williams: My deepest prayers, thoughts, concern and love goes out to Elena Baltacha's family. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Revelation 21:4
Billie Jean King: Saddened to hear about Elena Baltacha’s passing. My fondest memory w/Bally was sharing a wonderful chat when we met the queen @Wimbledon
Sloane Stephens: The loss of Elena Baltacha is sad. Cancer is a horrible disease. RIP Elena
Chris Evert: Rest in peace, beautiful Elena Baltacha...No words...Thoughts and prayers...
Martina Navratilova: So sad to hear of Elena Baltacha's passing- my thoughts are with her family and loved ones, gone much much too soon...
Madison Keys: So sorry to hear about Elena's passing. Thoughts and prayers with Elena's family #ripbally
Lisa Raymond: So incredibly sad to read of Elena Baltacha’s passing. A life much too young to be taken. Thoughts are with her family. #Rally4Bally
Coco Vandeweghe: Extremely saddened this afternoon to hear that we have lost a member of the @WTA family. Bally you will be missed!
Christina McHale: So sad to hear the tragic news of Elena baltacha's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with her family
Lindsay Davenport: Just awful :(
Tracy Austin: Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Elena Baltacha. A wonderful woman and great fighter. Thoughts with her husband and family. R.I.P. To hear of a death is always extremely sad but when they were young it seems to knock you back more. So much life to live & things to do.
Vania King: Shocked and sobered by the passing of fellow tennis player Elena Baltacha..this world is senseless but she is above that now..rest in peace.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Saddened and humbled this afternoon to hear we lost a member of the @WTA family. Elena Baltacha will truly be missed!!
Varvara Lepchenko: RIP Elena Baltacha. Nobody deserves to die young u will be missed :(!
Rajeev Ram: Awful, awful news about Elena Baltacha. Heart felt condolences to her loved ones. Way too young.