Since former British No.1 Elena Baltacha passed away due to liver cancer earlier this month, fans' memories of the inspirational athlete have poured in to wtatennis.com. Here is a collection of them:
Four years ago, I worked as the press officer of the $100,000 ITF event in Midland, Mich. Elena won the championship - the biggest of her all-too-short career. She had already overcome more adversity than any other athlete I'd ever met. She and Nino spoke eloquently of their journey together, with no hesitation. They were both so grateful to have gotten to that point, and they treated the tournament staff and volunteers like friends. You're not supposed to support a player when you work in the press, but I couldn't have been happier for Elena when she captured the title. God bless her!
June 2007 at Surbiton, London. I started "Ballyboostar" - a 'fan club' for Bally in 2005/2006. I went to Surbiton to see her play in the grass court event. I had just had heart surgery (May '07) and as I walked into the club, Bally and Olga were outside the players lounge. Bally just yelled "JO!" and she gave me the biggest bear hug imaginable!
My fondest memory of Bally was playing Justine Henin in the second round of the Australian Open in 2010. I remember she was the massive underdog, but still gave it all of her heart and fight, and you certainly cannot ask for more than that.
- William, England
When my daughter (Laura Robson) was 10 and travelling to La Manga with a tennis group and was by far the youngest. At the airport I must have had a concerned look about me because Bally came up to me and said, "Don't worry. I will look after Laura." And she did...
- Kathy Robson
I first saw Bally on TV when she was playing against Capriati in Wimbledon years and years ago and I had to check immediately who she was. She was so fierce on the court and you could see how important it was to her. I loved her intensity. She was a real inspiration to watch. Then upon finding out about her condition, I was amazed how strong she was. After that she became pretty much the only player I always checked out - how she was doing, where she was playing. She never got to the Top 10 but she became one of my all-time favorites anyway. Crushing to see her leave this way but I want her family and friends to know she was an inspiration and made a difference in the world for the better.
- Peter, Hungary
I saw her playing Fed Cup in Plovdiv some years ago. What struck me most was how much her teammates cheered her on and how she was inspired by them. She was a real fighter, and was clearly loved and respected by her fellow players.
- Charlie Walker
I remember when she was injured and tried to come back on tour. She made it back to the Top 50. That really gave me inspiration and motivation in my life. Thank you Bally, and we will miss you!
I remember her beating Coetzer at Wimbledon in 2002. She played such a brilliant match. I can't believe that barely 12 years later this beautiful young lady has left us. RIP Elena and thanks for all the memories. We all love you.