Elena Baltacha Farewell: Tribute Pours in Via 'Rally for Bally' Fundraiser

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Tennis stars and fans pay tribute through the 'Rally for Bally' fundraiser after the death of Elena Baltacha, the former British women's number 1 tennis superstar, who succumbed to liver cancer on Sunday at the age of 30.

The fundraiser set to be played in June already raised £10,834.47 donations from over 600 people. One of the donors left a message beside the donation with the following words: "Gone too young. A true inspiration for young sportswomen everywhere."

Committing to play in the event which features three mixed double matches are Baltacha's childhood friend Andy Murray, along with Martina Navratilova and Tim Henman. Proceeds of the event will be split between the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Several well-known personalities also expressed their homage to Baltacha via Twitter. Billie Jean King, U.S. former world number 1 tennis player, said: "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."

Paul Annacone, former men's head coach at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), said, "Absolutely heartbreaking news to hear about Elena Baltacha. Bally, you will be sorely missed."

Television presenter Clare Balding also tweeted: "Desperately sad to hear about Elena Baltacha.#Rally4Bally will be in her memory, for her academy and cancer research."

Ukrainian-born tennis star was diagnosed with the illness in January weeks after she got married with her long-standing coach Nino Severino and two months after she retired from professional tennis.

During her announcement about her illness in March, Baltacha vowed to fight the illness with everything she has.

According to an article from The Guardian, her husband and coach Severino said: "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."

Described as "one of the shining lights of British women's tennis of recent generations," the Scot has died peacefully at home according to a statement released by her family. She had been enduring a chronic liver condition that compromises the immune system called primary sclerosing cholangitis since she was 19 but had managed the condition throughout her tennis career through regular blood tests and medication.

Baltacha was the daughter of former Ipswich, St Mirren and Inverness footballer Sergei. She was the British number 1 for 132 weeks between 2009 and 2012 reaching a career-high world ranking of 49 in 2010. Despite her struggle with illness throughout her tennis career, she managed to win 11 single titles, reached the third round of Australian Open in 2005 and 2010 and Wimbledon in 2002.

She was forced to retire from tennis after her ankle problems. She launched the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis in 2010 to help children from all walks of life to learn to play tennis. 

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