Suffolk

Tennis star Elena Baltacha's funeral held in Ipswich

  • 19 May 2014
  • From the section Suffolk
Nino Severino and Judy Murray at Elena Baltacha's funeral Image copyright PA
Image caption Nino Severino and Judy Murray followed the coffin into St John the Baptist Church in Ipswich

The funeral of Elena Baltacha, the former British tennis number one, has been held.

Baltacha, 30, died of liver cancer after she was diagnosed with the illness in January.

Mourners at the service in Ipswich included former British number one players Tim Henman and Annabel Croft, and Laura Robson, who is currently top of the British women's rankings.

Baltacha was based in the town and had set up a tennis academy there.

About 300 mourners attended the service at St John the Baptist Church.

Image caption Former British men's number one tennis player Tim Henman was among the mourners
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mourners, including Annabel Croft (centre), were asked to dress colourfully rather than in black
Image caption The current British number one women's tennis player Laura Robson arrived in the sunshine for the funeral
Image caption The 'Rally for Bally' takes place on 15 June with fundraising events in London, Birmingham and Eastbourne

Baltacha's diagnosis came two months after she retired from tennis and weeks after she married her coach Nino Severino.

She was born in Kiev, Ukraine and raised in Perth, Scotland.

Her father Sergei, a former Soviet international footballer who played for Ipswich Town, St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, arrived at the church with her mother Olga.

Judy Murray, who coached Baltacha as a junior, arrived at the funeral with Mr Severino.

The family asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Rally For Bally fundraising event on 15 June.

The money will be split equally between the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which she set up to help disadvantaged children take up the sport.

Baltacha's highest singles world ranking was 49, which she reached in September 2010.

She was diagnosed with a liver condition at the age of 19 and managed the disease throughout her career with medication and blood tests.

Image caption Judy Murray and Anne Keothavong gave a tennis session for the Elena Baltacha Academy in Ipswich on Sunday

Ms Murray said: "She was one of the most selfless, undemanding, appreciative kids I ever came across.

"We want to do whatever we can to make sure she is remembered, to make sure she has a legacy and this academy, that was so dear to her heart, survives and thrives as long as we're around to do that."

Jo Durie, the former British number one women's tennis player, was also at the funeral.

She said: "Throughout the tennis world it's really made everyone think. At the age of 30... it's just so sad.

"She was so down to earth, always bouncing around, enthusiastic."

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