Olympic tears of joy for Elena Balatcha

AN honour and a privilege.

That is how Elena Baltacha described landing a wild card entry to the London Olympics tennis tournament after a dramatic few hours for the Ipswich star at Wimbledon.

Baltacha made hard work of her first round match against Italian Karin Knapp, eventually winning through 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in a match that saw both women require medical treatment.

But any pain quickly turned to tears of joy when she came off court to be told she had made the Team GB squad – having feared she might miss out following a dip in form this year.

An overjoyed Baltacha said: “I have played 11 years of Fed Cup and really wanted a spot to represent my country – I can’t explain how amazing it feels.

“All my hard work, everything has been so worth it. I’m honoured and privileged to have been given this chance.

“I’m a very happy girl. I will always remember the moment I found out I was going to be an Olympian. You’re talking about the elite people in sport in the whole world.”

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National coach Judy Murray deliberately kept the news from the 101st-ranked player until after her first round win and the 28-year-old said: “I was very emotional at the end, especially when I heard I had got the wild card for the Olympics.”

Baltacha will now hope yesterday’s double joy will spur on to great heights when she faces current Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in tomorrow’s second round.

Kvitova was far from convincing in her straight sets victory over world number 96 Akgul Amanmuradova, later admitting she was overcome by nerves after making her Centre Court debut as a defending champion.

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