SCOTTISH tennis player Elena Baltacha has announced that she has been diagnosed with liver cancer, and is currently undergoing treatment.
Baltacha was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.
Ukraine-born, she won 11 singles titles, reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and the same stage of the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010.
Daughter of former Ipswich, St Johnstone and Inverness footballer Sergei, she reached a career-high ranking of 49 in 2010 and was British number one for 132 weeks between 2009 and 2012.
However, she struggled with injury and illness during her career and retired from the sport in November last year.
The statement continued: “Elena and her husband Nino would like to thank everyone for their continued support.”
Baltacha also played Fed Cup tennis for Great Britain for 11 years.
Current team captain Judy Murray told www.lta.org.uk: “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.”
Following her retirement, Baltacha had vowed to concentrate on developing junior players at her Ipswich-based academy.