14 August 1983 – 4 May 2014
Elena Baltacha (fondly known as Bally) was born in the Ukraine on the 14th August 1983, her father (Sergei Baltacha) was a professional footballer and after moving the family from the Ukraine to Scotland (where Bally really found her tennis swing!) they later settled in Ipswich after her father was signed for Ipswich Town FC.
Bally's passion for tennis started at a young age, playing the Junior ITF circuit in 1997, in 2000 Bally was given a wild card entry to Wimbledon, a real dream come true for such a young player. From here her career grew and grew until she eventually became Women's British Tennis No.1, a title that she held intermittently between 2002 to 2012.
Title Winner & Olympian
Over the course of her career Bally won eleven ITF singles titles and four ITF doubles titles, she was also a runner-up in three ITF events in singles and four in doubles. In 2011 Bally won the 2011 Aegon Nottingham Challenge and in 2012 Bally had (in her own words) the honour of representing Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London, in both the Women's singles and doubles competitions, partnering with Anne Keothavong. This was Bally's last professional tennis appearance and she shortly retired due to an ongoing injury.
Bally was tragically diagnosed with liver cancer in January 2014, just a few weeks after marrying to her long term partner and tennis coach Nino Severino. Bally lost her fight to cancer on 4th May 2014, aged just 30, at her home in Ipswich, surrounded by friends and family.
Bally's Legacy - HER FOUNDATION & ACADEMY
After Bally's retirement from professional tennis in 2012 she and her husband Nino set up The Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis (EBAT) to fulfill Bally's long-term dream of helping get more children (in particular girls) playing tennis. After her sad death in 2014 The Elena Baltacha Foundation was created in order to keep Bally's legacy alive.
Based in her home town of Ipswich, in Suffolk, EBAT provides tennis coaching to many children in the area and is growing in numbers every day thanks to Bally's 'Free Schools Programme', where coaches visit schools all over the UK, running fun, interactive tennis lessons in the hope of inspiring young talent to get into our wonderful sport.