IPSWICH, England - Elena Baltacha has announced her retirement, wrapping up a professional career of over 16 years that took her to the world's Top 50 and, maybe more importantly, Britain's No.1.
Baltacha came onto the scene in 1997, playing her first event on the ITF Women's Circuit in Edinburgh and turning pro. As the years went on she got better and better, breaking into the Top 100 in 2009 and the Top 50 in 2010, and reaching four WTA quarterfinals along the way - Memphis, Eastbourne and Istanbul in 2010 and Dallas in 2011. She set her career-high of No.49 after the US Open in 2010.
Her brightest moments may have been her three Top 10 wins, though, which coincidentally all came within the span of a few months in 2010 - at Indian Wells (No.10 Li Na), Eastbourne (No.10 Li Na) and Istanbul (No.8 Francesca Schiavone). She also had another Top 20 win over Julia Goerges in 2011.
But the long career - as well as the health and injury struggles she had to overcome, most recently a foot injury that put her out eight months from August 2012 to April 2013 - always took their toll.
"It just feels it's the right time," Baltacha told the LTA about her decision. "My body has taken such a bruising over the last 16 years and that's finally taken its toll. I have had some amazing experiences through playing tennis - some incredible highs and some very low lows - and I wouldn't change any of them but now my mind and my body are telling me it's time to move on to a new phase of my life.
"I still absolutely love tennis and I want to take that passion and put it into learning to be the best coach I can be so that I can take all my experiences and use that to help develop the next generation of British tennis players. I am very committed to my Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which I started with my coach Nino Severino. We believe no matter what background you are from, that all children, rich or poor, should have the opportunity to play tennis. Hopefully we'll produce a champion one day."
Read more about Baltacha's retirement - including her full statement - by clicking here.