Elena Baltacha refuses to ponder ‘what ifs’ following retirement

Elena Baltacha

Elena Baltacha

Ipswich tennis star Elena Baltacha is refusing to ponder ‘what ifs’ following her decision to retire.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed many highs since turning professional in 1997, topping the British rankings for prolonged periods, reaching the third round of Grand Slam events on three occasions and going as high as No.49 in the world rankings.

It’s been a stop-start career which has been limited by a catalogue of injuries and illness though, with the requirement for surgery on her left ankle – having only just got the right one fixed last year – finally forcing her to call it a day.

“Is it frustrating that things haven’t finished completely on my own terms? The honest answer to that is ‘not really’,” said the 30-year-old.

“Of course I could look back and say ‘what if I wasn’t diagnosed with a chronic liver problem at the age of 19’ or ‘what if I hadn’t trained a certain way and aggravated my back’ and wonder if I could have been a top 20 player.

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“I’ll leave other people to think like that though. I’m a firm believer in fate and that obviously wasn’t the path I was meant to take. Things happen for a reason and it’s up to you to make the most of whatever hand you’re dealt.

“Whenever I’ve played and trained I’ve always given it absolutely everything.

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“And whenever I’ve been selected for Great Britain I’ve always made sure I’m available, because I’ve been so proud to represent my country.

“Some athletes retire and are left wondering what could have been if they’d pushed themselves just that little bit harder, but I can honestly hold my hand on my heart and say I always gave it my all.

“I’m really proud of the career I’ve had and I don’t have any regrets. There’s no point wondering what could have been because the path you take makes you the person you are.”

Baltacha will now focus on coaching at her ‘Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis’ (EBAT), based at Ipswich Sports Club.

“I’m really, really excited about the academy,” she said. “I’m so driven and passionate about making tennis accessible for all children, no matter whether they are rich or poor. It’s something I feel very strongly about.

“Primarily it’s about getting more children on courts, that’s the big issue the sport faces, but hopefully a by-product of that will be that we find a few stars along the way.

“I’ll be aiming to use all of my career experiences, both good and bad, to help the next generation of children playing the game.

“Hopefully we can produce the next big star here in Ipswich.”

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