Tennis star Elena Baltacha has died of liver cancer at the age of 30, her family have announced.
The former British tennis number one was diagnosed with the illness in January, just two months after retiring from tennis and weeks after she married her coach Nino Severino.
She reportedly died peacefully at her home on Sunday morning.
In a statement released by her family husband Severino said:
“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.”
At the age of 19 Elena was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.
However, she overcame obstacles – both on and off the court – to reach the top of her field.
The tennis pro was British number one from December 2009 to June 2012 (for 132 weeks) and won 11 International Tennis Federation titles.
Kiev-born Elena was part of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics but retired from the sport last November after struggling to overcome a series of injuries.
Current women’s British number one Laura Robson paid tribute on Twitter to her fellow player.
She said: “Impossibly sad. Forever a teammate. Sweet dreams Bally.”
A Lawn Tennis Association’s spokesperson said in a statement: “Today we have lost a shining light from the heart of British tennis – a true role model, a great competitor and a wonderful friend.”