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Elena Baltacha
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Elena Baltacha

It is with great sadness that the IC Council announces the untimely death of Elena Baltacha, aged 30 after a short illness.

Born in the Ukraine but raised in Scotland, Elena was formerly the British Ladies number one from December 2009 to June 2012. Elena was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system but despite this and testament to her inspirational character she reached the last 32 of a Grand Slam on three occasions - Wimbledon in 2002, the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010 and reached a career-high world ranking of 49 having beaten the likes of Li Na and Francesca Schiavone. Elena won 11 ITF singles titles and was part of Great Britain's Fed Cup team for 11 years, under the captaincy of Judy Murray. Elena was a four-time recipient of the Aegon British Tennis Award - presented to current tennis players, who represent Great Britain and are deemed to have made the best performance and contribution to British tennis. She also represented Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics, a dream come true having been inspired from a young age by her Father Sergei who won a bronze medal representing USSR in football at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Elena retired from professional tennis in November 2013. She was diagnosed with liver cancer in January 2014 and passed away peacefully at home on Sunday May 4th surrounded by family and friends.

Iain Bates, the Lawn Tennis Association's head of women's tennis, said: "We have lost a shining light from the heart of British tennis - a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend." Stacey Allaster, chairman and chief executive of the World Tennis Association, added: "Elena's journey was never an easy one and yet she consistently showed her strength, good humour and indomitable spirit."

Elena and her husband Nino Severino set up the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis (EBAT) which provided free and subsidised coaching and performance support to children from deprived and disadvantaged areas. The founding principle of the academy is that poverty is no barrier to the development of young tennis talent. The trustees of the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis charity are committed to continuing Elena's work and staying true to her belief that tennis should be accessible to all children, irrespective of their social background or circumstances.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Elena's family, her husband Nino and her many friends around the world. May Elena rest in peace and may the calm that comes from memories of love shared, comfort her family now and in the days ahead.
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