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.
My deepest prayers, thoughts, concern and love goes out to Elena Baltacha’s family. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Revelation 21:4— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) May 5, 2014
What sad news to wake up to today. My thoughts and prayers are with Elena’s family on their tragic loss.— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) May 5, 2014
So sad to wake up to the terrible news of Elena passing away! RIP Bally! Thinking about her loved ones …— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) May 5, 2014
Life’s too short and very very unfair sometimes..u were too young to go..Rest in Peace Elena Baltacha..u will be missed terribly— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) May 5, 2014
So sad to hear about Elena Baltacha! RIP! Thoughts go out to her family and loved ones!— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) May 5, 2014
Rest in Peace, beautiful Elena Baltacha…No words…Thoughts and prayers…— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) May 5, 2014
Saddened to hear about Elena Baltacha’s passing. My fondest memory w/Bally was sharing a wonderful chat when we met the Queen at @Wimbledon— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 5, 2014
Very sad to hear that Elena Baltacha passed away. RIP.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) May 5, 2014
Reportedly, there will be a center court tribute to Baltacha at the Madrid Open in Spain tonight.
Andy Murray will be one of a number of stars paying a centre court tribute to Elena Baltacha at the start of the evening session in Madrid— Russell Fuller (@russellcfuller) May 5, 2014