Elena Baltacha's Wimbledon column: Pride at Olympic selection

By Elena BaltachaBritish number three
Baltacha Olympic dream fulfilled

It's a full day since Judy Murray told me at the end of my first-round match at Wimbledon that I had been granted a place to play at the Olympics as part of Team GB.

It still hasn't sunk in and I had to ask someone to show me a piece of paper with it written down because, even now, I can't quite believe it.

I woke up at 6am on Wednesday, looked at the ceiling, and thought to myself: 'I can't believe I'm playing at the Olympics'.

It's strange to have all this going on in the middle of Wimbledon, and the emotional highs and lows have been massive over the last few weeks, but in a strange way it makes my second-round match against reigning champion Petra Kvitova on Thursday a little bit easier.

A lot of the stress of the last few weeks has been lifted and, although I know exactly how good Kvitova is and how big an ask it is to beat her on grass, I can just go out there, swing and see what I can do against her.

I had pretty much given up on playing at the Olympics because I knew that I was going to lose the British number one ranking after my loss to Sam Stosur at the French Open.

I was in tears, sobbing in my hotel room, after that match because I have been dreaming of playing at the Olympics since I was a little girl and I could feel it all slipping away.

As a professional athlete you learn to deal with disappointment, but I'd be lying if I said that it hadn't been a black cloud over me during the last few weeks. It's not the sort of disappointment you can shrug off.

My mum Olga was a talented pentathlete and was selected to represent Soviet Union the 1980 Olympics but, because my Dad had already been selected as part of the national soccer team and they had my older brother Sergei, she had to stay home and be a mum.

I always knew that it had been very painful for her to miss out, but it's only recently, when I went through it myself, that I really understood how much it must have hurt. My Dad went on to win a bronze medal at that Olympics so, all in all, the Games have played a big part in my family's life.

My mum was driving when the announcement came on the radio that I had been given a place by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and she just burst into tears because she was so happy for me. She had to pull over.

I can't thank the ITF enough for giving me the place and I'm also really pleased for Anne Keothavong, who also got a place in singles, and for our Olympic doubles team of Laura Robson and Heather Watson.

I'm very glad I didn't know about the Olympic place before I went on court against Karin Knapp because I would have been all over the place emotionally. My team found out just as we were warming up so they sat watching and knowing, while I was too busy worrying about Knapp.

The crowd on Court 18 were great and they helped me through. It will be good to have that support again when I take on Kvitova and I'm hoping it will be on one of the really big courts.

I've been lucky enough to play on Centre Court and Court One and they're both incredible. I think I'm experienced enough not to get intimidated by playing in places like that. I've been on Court Philippe Chatrier in Paris and on Rod Laver Arena as well, but there really is nowhere quite like Wimbledon.

When I arrived here at this year's Championships I had some amazing memories of this place. By the time this summer is over, I'll have a few more to savour.

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