Updated: Tuesday, 20 May 2014 01:18 | By Agence France-Presse

Family, friends bid farewell to Britain's Baltacha

Elena Baltacha's memory and spirit will live on, the former British tennis number one's family and friends said following her funeral Monday.


Family, friends bid farewell to Britain's Baltacha

Britain’s Elena Baltacha returns to Russia’s Maria Kirilenko during their AEGON International tennis tournament in Eastbourne, southern England, on June 19, 2013 - by Glyn Kirk

Baltacha died of liver cancer on May 4 aged just 30. Her death came less than six months after she married her former coach Nino Severino.

Leading figures of British tennis joined her family at St. John's Church in Ipswich, eastern England, for the funeral. Mourners wore bright colours as Baltacha had stipulated before her death.

Britain's Fed Cup captain Judy Murray -- the mother of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray -- was joined by British players past and present, including Tim Henman, Jo Durie, Laura Robson, Jeremy Bates, Annabel Croft and Anne Keothavong.

Top tennis stars including Andy Murray and his brother Jamie, Martina Navratilova, Henman, Greg Rusedski and Heather Watson will take part in "Rally For Bally", a cancer fundraising event that will be held in her memory on June 15.

In a statement, friends and family thanked wellwishers for their support.

"The tributes and love for Bally from around the world in the last two weeks and the way that everyone has got behind the Rally For Bally have made us so proud of her and how she touched people's lives," the statement read.

Born in Ukraine and brought up in Scotland, Baltacha revealed she had liver cancer in March, having being diagnosed in January.

Baltacha, who was British number one for nearly three years, only retired from professional tennis in 2013.

Her father is the Soviet Union footballer Sergei Baltacha, who played for Dynamo Kiev, Ipswich Town and St Johnstone.

She was diagnosed aged 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.

Despite her illness and injury problems, Baltacha reached the third round of the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010, and achieved a career-high world ranking of 49.

She won 11 ITF singles titles, made the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and was a member of Great Britain's Fed Cup team for 11 years.

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