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Elena Baltacha

tennis player
Full name: Elena Sergeevna Baltacha
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Bio Being a four-time winner of the AEGON Awards, she was also a long-term British No. 1, a position she held intermittently from 2002 to 2012. However, as a result of her absence from competition due to knee surgery, she dropped down the world rankings and at the time of her retirement on November 18, 2013, she was ranked as the world No. 221 and British No. 6. Her career high ranking of World No. 49 was achieved in September 2010.

Over the course of her career she won eleven ITF singles titles (five $25,000, two $50,000, two $75,000, and two $100,000) and four ITF doubles titles (all $25,000). She was also a runner-up in three ITF events in singles and four in doubles. In 2010, Baltacha had victories over top 10 players, including two victories over Li Na (the second of which came via retirement) and one against Francesca Schiavone, who at the time was the reigning French Open champion. In 2011 Baltacha won her highest ranked tournament on the ITF tour, the 2011 Aegon Nottingham Challenge.

She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, Baltacha moved with her family following a transfer of football clubs by her professional footballer father, Sergei. He represented the Soviet Union and played in the United Kingdom for Ipswich Town, St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Her mother Olga represented the Soviet Union in both the pentathlon and heptathlon at the Olympic Games. Her brother Sergei played football for St Mirren and Millwall.

After arriving at Heathrow Airport on January 13, 1989, Baltacha moved to Ipswich where her father was to play football for the next year before moving to Perth, Scotland, where she grew up and spent some of her teenage years, before moving to Paisley, Scotland, and attending Castlehead High School.

She was a resident in Ipswich, on December 8, 2013, a month after her retirement from tennis, she married her coach Nino Severino, a retired professional tennis player turned multi-sports specialist in mental and movement training coach, who also works with Ipswich Town F.C. and in coaching martial arts athletes. In 2010, the couple had formed the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which is based around the facilities at Ipswich Sports Club where she trained during her career.

At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with the liver condition primary sclerosing cholangitis and in June 2010 she became patron of the Children's Liver Disease Foundation.
Baltacha was diagnosed with liver cancer in January 2014, just a few weeks after her marriage to tennis coach Nino Severino. She died on May 4, 2014 at the age of 30 in her Ipswich home. Several players paid tribute to Baltacha on Twitter including Grand Slam champions Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Petra Kvitov√°, Marion Bartoli, Chris Evert, Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
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