Gallery: Messages of support for Elena Baltacha after she announces liver cancer diagnosis
Messages of support have poured in for Elena Baltacha, the tennis star who has announced she is suffering from liver cancer.
The former number one female tennis player in Britain, who lives in Ipswich, said: “I have recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver. I’m currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have.”
The statement continued: “Elena and her husband Nino would like to thank everyone for their continued support.”
The 30-year-old, who is of Ukrainian origin, married Nino Severino, her strength and conditioning coach, in Suffolk last year.
Judy Murray, who is a friend of Elena and captain of the Aegon GB Fed Cup Team, said: “Obviously this is a tough time for Bally, Nino and her family but she is a such a determined, upbeat person and everyone around her is staying positive as well. I know she’ll be really grateful for all the support that she’s getting.”
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Bob Shelley, a friend of the Baltacha family, said the news was “terrible”, adding, “I just can’t believe it.”
Born in Ukraine, Elena moved to Ipswich when her footballer father Sergei signed for Ipswich Town and fell in love with tennis playing swingball in the garden of her Ipswich home. She grew up in Scotland after her father signed for St Johnstone but returned to Ipswich in her early 20s to work with the man who would become her husband, Nino Severino.
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Although her career enjoyed many highs, a catalogue of injuries and a chronic liver problem with which she was diagnosed at the age of 19 affected her throughout.
Since retiring last year Elena founded the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis at Ipswich Sports Club and has expressed her desire to make tennis affordable to all.
The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, of which Elena is a patron, said: “We are saddened to hear news that our Patron, Elena Baltacha has been diagnosed with cancer of the liver.
“We are proud to have Elena as a patron as she is a great inspiration and role model for young people with liver disease.
“We wish Elena all the best with her treatment and send our best wishes to her and her family.”