A TEARFUL Andy Murray was among players to lead a minute’s silence at the Mutua Madrid Open in tribute to Elena Baltacha.
Baltacha was diagnosed with liver cancer in January, just two months after retiring from tennis and only weeks after she married her long-time coach Nino Severino.
She died peacefully at home on Sunday, aged 30.
A number of high-profile players, including Murray and his brother Jamie and Caroline Wozniacki, observed a minute’s silence on Centre Court at the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday.
Andy said it was “tough to understand such a tragic loss.”
Baltacha was a long-serving member of Britain’s Fed Cup team where she played alongside Laura Robson and Heather Watson, who both paid tribute on Twitter.
Robson wrote: “Impossibly sad. Forever a teammate. Sweet dreams Bally.”
Watson added: “We’ve lost our lovely Bally, too young. Rest in peace. My thought are with Nino and all of her family”.
Baltacha had retired from professional tennis after a career which had seen her ranked as the British number one for 132 weeks. Her highest singles ranking was 49 in September 2010.
Anne Keothavong, who played doubles with Baltacha in a number of tournaments including Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics, wrote on Twitter: “Words cannot express how much I’ll miss Bally.
A statement on Murray’s website said: “Before being struck down with illness, Elena put her heart and soul into the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis, which helps children from all backgrounds to learn and play tennis. All those involved in running the Academy have pledged to carry on the work that she started.
“The Rally Against Cancer – Rally For Bally will now be held in her memory on 15th June to raise funds jointly for Royal Marsden national cancer charity and Elena Baltacha Foundation, the charity attached to the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis. Andy Murray, Ross Hutchins, Martina Navratilova, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski Jamie Murray, Jonny Marray, Anne Keothavong and Heather Watson are some of the names who will play in mixed doubles exhibition matches at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club, the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and the Aegon International in Eastbourne.”