Elena Baltacha announces retirement from tennis

Best time for me to retire - Baltacha in nOvember 2013

Former British number one Elena Baltacha has announced her retirement from tennis with immediate effect.

The 30-year-old, who won 11 singles titles, reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2002 and the same stage of the Australian Open, in 2005 and 2010.

The Scot reached a career-high ranking of 49 in 2010, but struggled with injury and illness during her career.

"My body has taken such a bruising over the last 16 years and that's finally taken its toll," she said.

"I have had some amazing experiences through playing tennis - some incredible highs and some very low lows - and I wouldn't change any of them but now my mind and my body are telling me it's time to move on to a new phase of my life."

Baltacha was diagnosed at the age of 19 with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system.

But she went on to enjoy a successful career, representing Great Britain for 12 consecutive years in the Fed Cup and competing at the London 2012 Olympics.

She returned from a nine-month injury layoff to win the ITF Nottingham Challenge in June, but was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon and failed to qualify for the US Open in August.

Baltacha now plans to dedicate herself to coaching and developing the academy she founded in 2012 with her coach Nino Severino.external-link

"I still absolutely love tennis and I want to take that passion and put it into learning to be the best coach I can be so that I can take all my experiences as a player and use that to help develop the next generation of British tennis players," she added.

"We believe that no matter what background you are from, that all children, rich or poor, should have the opportunity to play tennis. Hopefully we'll produce a champion one day."

Britain's Fed Cup captain Judy Murray said Baltacha set a great example for emerging players to follow.

"Bally has been the most incredible ambassador for women's tennis in Britain for the past 12 years. Her work ethic and competitive spirit are second to none," said Murray.

"If we could bottle those qualities, we would have many more top players. She's the perfect role model for our junior girls and the Fed Cup won't be the same without her."

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