MADRID, Spain – The tennis family came together at the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday night, as the WTA and ATP World Tour players stepped onto center court before the night match for a moment of silence to remember Elena Baltacha, who tragically lost her battle with liver cancer the day before.
The news Baltacha had passed was devastating to all that knew her and played with or against her over the years. A multitude of condolence messages started flooding in over Twitter in the hours after the news broke, a multitude so big – and deservedly so for one of the most beloved players on tour – that Baltacha’s name was trending worldwide. Read 50 of those condolence messages here and here.
After her match on Monday, Samantha Stosur – one of Baltacha’s contemporaries – opened up.
“I woke up this morning and had an e-mail about it,” she said. “It’s obviously very, very sad. I can’t imagine what her husband and family are going through. And just for it to happen to somebody so young and so fit otherwise, it’s just terribly sad, and a very cruel thing to happen to somebody like that.
“I think everyone’s kind of in shock,” the Australian added. “We knew it was bad – liver cancer’s never going to be a good thing – but I think everyone’s just so surprised how quickly it took hold.”
Stosur was then asked to talk about her fondest memories of the former British No.1.
“Well we’re the same age, so we grew up playing the juniors together,” Stosur reminisced. “I remember playing her at a $25,000 tournament in Surbiton, on grass, many, many years ago. It was a little bit of a nightmare playing against her on grass because she had such a big serve, she got so much power on it – and you couldn’t get too far behind because she would certainly blow you away from the court!
“We also played at the French Open a couple of years ago. It was first round, center court, and it was Sunday morning actually, so we opened the tournament. We played each other quite a few times.
“She was one of those players you respected, but more importantly she was a nice person.
“Somebody who shouldn’t be gone.”