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Gallery: British tennis stars including Laura Robson ensure Elena Baltacha’s legacy lives on

PUBLISHED: 10:56 19 May 2014

Nino Severino is organising a tribute day, ahead of Elena Baltacha's funeral, at Rushmere Sports Centre.
Laura Robson at the day.

Nino Severino is organising a tribute day, ahead of Elena Baltacha's funeral, at Rushmere Sports Centre. Laura Robson at the day.

Leading figures in British tennis gathered at a Suffolk sports centre yesterday to pay tribute to Elena Baltacha and the sporting legacy she worked so selflessly to create.

Dozens of children who had been coached and inspired by the former British number one took part in training sessions led by Federation Cup team captain Judy Murray and Iain Bates, head of British women’s tennis, and Olympic medalist Laura Robson.

Held at the Rushmere Sports Centre, where the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis (EBAT) introduced hundreds of young players to the game, yesterday’s event was described as a “special legacy for a special person”.

The event, organised by Ms Baltacha’s husband Nino Severino in advance of her funeral today, was also attended by Davis Cup captain Leon Smith and former top 50 ranked player Anne Keothavong, a friend and rival of the Ipswich-based player, known by all as Bally.

Ms Murray, the mother of Andy Murray, who coached Ms Baltacha as a junior player, said the event’s success was testimony to her popular reputation.

“I think today has shown now much everybody thought of her, loved her and admired her,” she said.

“For all of us the important thing is to ensure that the academy survives and thrives and that it leaves a very special legacy for a very special person.”

Mr Bates was also encouraged by those who turned out at the event to pay their respects.

“It’s been an absolutely fantastic day,” he said. “We’ve got a whole group of kids who were inspired by Bally to take up tennis and they’re all here having fun with some great training exercises.

“There were so many people who were close to Bally during her life and everyone is giving something back to the sport, which is great to see.”

Ms Baltacha’s death from liver cancer on Sunday, May 4, at the age of 30, was met with an outpouring of grief from across the tennis world and beyond.

Eleanor Preston, Ms Baltacha’s manager and friend, said the response had been “incredibly touching and moving”.

“This is all about the British tennis 
community, the people who were in her life, professionally and personally, pulling together to continue the work that 
she started at the academy,” she said.

“It’s about helping to build her legacy and to remain true to her original idea to help kids from all background play tennis and have their lives enriched by sport.”

The fundraising appeal in Ms Baltacha’s memory has raised almost £30,000 for the EBAT and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

To donate to the cause visit the Just Giving site.

Suffolk is in the final five for BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Holiday Destination of the Year 2018 – and needs your vote to scoop the prestigious award.

I was proud to be the first woman ever to be elected as an MP for a Suffolk constituency in 2010, writes Dr Therese Coffey.

Award-winning crime author Elly Griffiths will be visiting three Suffolk libraries next month as part of a tour promoting her latest book.

The family of a missing Suffolk woman have “serious concerns” about her safety, police have said.

A formation of Lynx helicopters made a stop at Wattisham Flying Station today to mark the end of the aircraft’s distinguished 40-year career with the British Army.

A former head teacher from Saffron Walden who was found with “horrific” child abuse images has avoided jail.

A man from Bedfordshire has been arrested in connection with a ram-raid in Long Melford.

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