© Ella Ling

Elena Baltacha

Murray, Hutchins planning fund-raiser for Baltacha


Former British No 1 Elena Baltacha was recently diagnosed with liver cancer, shortly after retiring from the sport. The Scot, who reached a career-high ranking of No 49 and represented Britain with passion and success, is currently battling the disease and has been given support from across the tennis community. Andy Murray, who has known her since he was young, is hoping to set up a similar fund-raiser during the Aegon Championships at London’s Queen’s Club this summer to the one he did last year for English doubles player Ross Hutchins, who is in remission from Hodgin’s Lymphoma and who is also the Tournament Director at Queen’s. Murray and Hutchins were at Queen’s on Tuesday and discussed the possibility.

Andy, did you enjoy last year’s fund-raising and could you do something for Elena Baltacha?
Andy Murray: Yeah, I loved it, the whole day went great, raised a lot of money, everyone had good fun, from everyone that was on the court, to the crowd and everyone that was involved in the event, and the tournament, TV picked it up. To see Ivan (lendl) on the court, to have Tim (Henman) back on the court, for me personally it was really cool to see, and obviously having Ross there too was great. I really enjoyed it.

Ross Hutchins: It’s in the process, we’re trying to support Elena. The whole tennis community’s behind her, as Andy is in a big way, he knows her from a young age. Judy (Murray) is very close to Elena and we’re trying to put something together. We’re yet to confirm anything, but we will be hoping to confirm something in the next few weeks, if we’re able to put something on. We really are keen to put something together and get behind her and really help to support her to get through this tough period.

Would it be something like last year?
We’d really like to but it’s not easy to put on an event like that as we know from last year, how much effort it took from Andy and everybody involved to put it on. We’re trying to put things together, but Elena was diagnosed slightly later than me, so right now we are trying to put something together and see if we can make it happen.

It must have been shattering for you to hear her diagnosis?
Yeah absolutely. Knowing Elena as we do, she’s a fighter, a fantastic tennis player, she’s just got married, lovely girl, very good record in Fed Cup and all the British competitions, very passionate about the sport. I found about it the same time you all did – I was devastated. I was in Indian Wells at the time. It was heart-breaking. She seemed to have had liver issues in the past – I don’t know if that was connected – I haven’t spoken to her about it, I have sent her a couple of messages but I just hope she is doing well and is able to find the right person. I know for me it was very important to find the right person, the right venue, who I felt was going to get me through that period. I was lucky enough to find someone. It was not a nice time to hear about it, knowing what I went through and then now, envisaging what she will have to go through from being newly married to Nino.

I take it you’re available to talk, if she ever needs you?
Absolutely. I am sure she’s got more important things to worry about, with the decision and where she can get better. Should she need some advice, I am here. When I was struggling, I spoke to close friends about issues, I spoke to Stiliyan Petrov, people like that, other sportsmen who have been through cancer issues, but I am sure there are plenty of people far more qualified than I am on what she needs to go through. Maybe with the recovery process, should she want to get back into something to do with sport, maybe I can help with the recovery once she is healthy again, but right now, she needs, I would think, to do everything she can, use all her strength, to fight this illness and make sure she;s able to live a healthy life once again.