Elena Baltacha hungry for return to pro game
Former British No 1 Elena Baltacha has put aside thoughts of retirement and revealed she is fully intent on a return to professional tennis next season.
The 29-year-old from Perth has not played since the Olympics, where she announced she was planning to have foot surgery that would keep her out for six months and could signal the end of her career.
But, after going under the knife earlier this month, Baltacha is ready to put in the hard work needed to return to full fitness, although she admits her body may have other ideas. The Scot said: “I do really want to come back. Over the last couple of months I’ve realised I do want to compete again.
“The competition is the one thing I really miss about it, when it’s 4-4 in the third set and 30-30. You can’t really replace that playing a game of cards.
“But it all depends on recovery. I remember when I had my back surgery, when I was 19, and it wasn’t that much of a blow because you recover so quickly. But I’m 29 now and it’s completely different. So we’ll see what my body says. If I can’t come back then I’ll accept it and move on and look forward to getting on with the next part of my life.”
Baltacha is no stranger to injury and illness, having battled back problems and a chronic liver condition, but she has enjoyed significant success over the past three years, in particular, and reached a career-high ranking of 49 in September 2010.
Her inactivity has seen her drop to 134th and she will not play for at least another six weeks following the operation to remove a bone fragment.
Baltacha has enjoyed her break, though, which has enabled her to devote a lot more time to her tennis academy for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in Ipswich.
She said: “At the moment I’m enjoying being at home and not getting on another plane. And once I’m up and about again I’ll be back at the academy. I love seeing the girls and I’m learning and developing as a coach.
The baton in British women’s tennis has been passed to the new generation this season, with Heather Watson and Laura Robson now the country’s top two players.
Robson, 18, reached the fourth round of the US Open and became the first British player for 21 years to make a WTA singles final in China last month.
That feat was then surpassed by 20-year-old Watson, who on Sunday ended Britain’s 24-year wait for a WTA singles champion with victory in Osaka to take her just into the world’s top 50.
Baltacha is thrilled to see the two young players thriving and believes the friendly rivalry will push them forward, as it did for her and Anne Keothavong.
“It’s so good to see them doing so well,” said Baltacha. “I’m really delighted for both of them.
“I remember my rivalry with Anne, seeing what she achieved and thinking, ‘I can do that, I can be better’. It really drives you on.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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