Former tennis star Elena Baltacha died this Sunday, May 4, at the age of 30. The British professional player passed away in England after a battle with liver cancer.
A statement on the official website for the Women's Tennis Association reads that Baltacha "passed away peacefully on Sunday morning, surrounded by friends and family."
Baltacha married her longtime coach Nino Severino in December. He released a statement to the WTA reading, "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."
The chairman of the organization, Stacey Allaster, released her own words on the late Olympic competitor, saying, "We are deeply grieved to lose our friend Elena Baltacha in her battle with cancer. Elena's journey was never an easy one and yet she consistently showed her strength, good humor and indomitable spirit."
In addition to her skill on the tennis court, Baltacha was known for her work with the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which teaches the sport to young men and women. The organization will continue on after Baltacha's death in her memory.
The late Baltacha was also remembered by tennis star Rafael Nadal, who tweeted "Very sad to hear that Elena Baltacha passed away. RIP." Famed player Bille Jean King paid her respects, too, writing, "Saddened to hear about Elena Baltacha's passing. My fondest memory [with] Bally was sharing a wonderful chat when we met the Queen at Wimbledon."
During her tennis career, Baltacha competed at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and represented England at the 2012 Olympics in London.