Judy Murray’s tears for tragic Scots tennis star Elena Baltacha
JUDY Murray wept as she told how she spoke to tennis star Elena Baltacha just before she died.
The acclaimed coach and mother of former Wimbledon champion Sir Andy Murray paid tribute to the ‘absolute gem’ in a film about her.
Miss Baltacha, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine, grew up in Perth and was one of the UK’s most successful tennis players.
However, she died of liver cancer in May 2014, less than six months after marrying her former coach Nino Severino and aged just 30.
The film tells Miss Baltacha’s story from her beginnings in the former USSR to her life in Scotland, and celebrates her career successes.
Her father Sergei, brother Sergei, sister-in-law Rosie and husband also give an insight into her rise to the top of the sport.
Miss Baltacha retired in 2013, and was diagnosed with cancer in January 2014. She had lived with liver condition primary sclerosing cholangitis from the age of 19.
In the film Mrs Murray tells of her final phone call with her. She said: ‘They put the phone to her, so I could speak to her. So I was able to say goodbye to her.’
Becoming emotional and beginning to cry, she added: ‘She was amazing.’
Describing her first encounter with the player as a child at a tournament in Dunblane, Mrs Murray said: ‘She bowled up – ginger hair, cap on, big glasses, shorts. She asked, “When am I playing?”.
‘She was desperate to get on. She won the tournament, her thumping serve meaning she lodged balls in the hedge. You know, girls aged nine just do not serve like that.
‘It’s almost like this split personality. On the court, the competitor and warrior, off the court, just an absolute gem.’
Mrs Murray also recalls telling Miss Baltacha she had made it onto the 2012 Olympic team, helping her realise a dream to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become an Olympian.
Miss Baltacha was ranked UK No 1 for 132 weeks, from December 2009 to June 2012. She also broke into the world’s top 50 and won 11 singles titles.
Elena Baltacha will be shown on BBC Alba next Sunday at 9pm and will then be available on iPlayer.
‘I was able to say goodbye to her’
Emotional: Judy Murray in film Close: Elena Baltacha and Judy Murray