Tennis: Former British No.1 Baltacha fighting liver cancer

Elena Baltacha of Britain hitting a return to Marina Erakovic of New Zealand during their women's singles match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 28, 2013. Former British number one Elena Baltacha revea
Elena Baltacha of Britain hitting a return to Marina Erakovic of New Zealand during their women's singles match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 28, 2013. Former British number one Elena Baltacha revealed on Friday that she is battling liver cancer. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Former British number one Elena Baltacha revealed on Friday that she is battling liver cancer.

"I have recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver," the 30-year-old said in a statement. "I'm currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have." Baltacha was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.

Ukraine-born Baltacha reached a career-high ranking of 49 in 2010 and reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and the same stage of the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010.

She was also British number one for 132 weeks between 2009 and 2012 and during her career enjoyed wins over top 10 players Li Na and Francesca Schiavone.

But the Scot, whose father Sergei played football for Ipswich and St Johnstone, had problems with injury and illness for several years and decided to hang up her racquet in November 2013.

Britain's Heather Watson, playing at the hard court tournament at Indian Wells in California, was dismayed by the news about her former Fed Cup teammate.

"It must be so tough for her," Watson said. "I just wish her all the best.

"I have been around her a lot. And especially being British and British tennis, all of us girls are very close. We will be sending our thoughts and prayers out to her."

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