UK & World News
Elena Baltacha Diagnosed With Liver Cancer
Former British tennis number one Elena Baltacha has revealed she has been diagnosed with cancer of the liver.
In a statement posted on Twitter, she said: "I have recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver. I'm currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have."
The statement added that Baltacha and her husband Nino thanked everyone for their support.
Baltacha broke into the world top 50 in 2010, and has enjoyed victories over a number of top players including Li Na and Francesca Schiavone.
The 30-year-old reached the third round of the Australian Open on two occasions as well as the same stage of Wimbledon, in 2002, and was also a regular in Britain's Fed Cup team.
But having struggled for form and fitness in recent years, she retired last year to open a tennis academy.
Judy Murray, Captain of the Aegon GB Fed Cup Team said: "Obviously this is a tough time for Bally, Nino and her family but she is a such a determined, upbeat person and everyone around her is staying positive as well.
"I know she'll be really grateful for all the support that she's getting."
Baltacha was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: "The chances are she will have known for a while that she was at risk of liver cancer because of her PSC.
"It's a genetic illness that infects your bile duct. You get a back flow of bile into your liver and that causes scarring in your liver. As the liver is more scarred it will be so damaged that you will have cirrhosis.
"I would imagine she will have a range of treatments. It will be a very difficult time for her and it may be that she eventually needs to have a liver transplant."
Messages of support for the Lithuania-born star swiftly appeared on social media with British Tennis (@BritishTennis) tweeting: We are all behind you Elena, and we send you our best wishes.
Former leading British player Andrew Castle (@AndrewCastle63) said: Passing on love and best wishes to Elena Baltacha for a speedy recovery. Shocked by this news.
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