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Tennis stars remember Britain’s Elena Baltacha, 30, as news spreads of her death

(Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

The woman who was once Britain’s top-ranked tennis player, Elena Baltacha, died of liver cancer on Sunday at just 30 years old, the BBC reports. The Ukrainian-born star went public with her diagnosis two months ago, after retiring from the sport in November. Previously, she had been Britain’s No. 1 women’s player for three years.

Baltacha’s husband and coach Nino Severino said in a statement:

“We are heartbroken beyond words at the loss of our beautiful, talented and determined Bally. She was an amazing person and she touched so many people with her inspirational spirit, her warmth and her kindness.”

As the sad news spread around the world, Baltacha’s predecessors and contemporaries in the sport remembered her on Twitter.

Reportedly, there will be a center court tribute to Baltacha at the Madrid Open in Spain tonight.


Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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