Media release: New documentary tells the story of Scottish tennis player’s life and career


THE inspirational story of Elena Baltacha, one of the world’s top tennis stars who tragically died aged 30, will be told in a new feature-length documentary to be shown on BBC ALBA.

‘Elena Baltacha’ is the incredible story of the extraordinary life and career of a feminist icon and role model who overcame serious illness to become a tennis champion.

Sport was in Elena’s blood – her mother, Olga, represented the former USSR as an athlete, and her father, Sergei, was an USSR international footballer.

Elena made it into the top 50 ranking players in the world, despite the difficulties that she faced due to her debilitating illness, which affected her liver.

In 2012, Elena realised a lifelong dream when she was selected for the GB team for the Olympic Games in London 2012, following in her father’s footsteps.

The talented tennis player tragically died from liver cancer in 2014, when she was just 30 years old. She had only been married to her tennis coach and partner, Niño Severino, for five months when she passed away.

This feature-length documentary film tells Elena Baltacha’s story from her beginnings in the former USSR to her new life in Scotland, and celebrates her career successes.

It gives an unique insight into the woman behind the racquet; the daughter, sister and friend who was loved so dearly with her story told through the testimony of Elena’s family – her father, Sergei, her brother Sergei (a Scotland U21 football international), her sister-in-law, Rosie, and her husband, Niño Severino.

The film also features Elena’s Fed Cup captain Judy Murray, her former coaches, Jimmy Mackechnie, Alan Jones and Jo Durie; fellow players Anne Keothavong and Naomi Cavaday and some of her closest friends.

It is further illustrated with tennis match and training archive, Baltacha family photographs and drama reconstruction sequences featuring Elena’s niece and nephew, Ana and Alex Baltacha.

Elena Baltacha is the latest documentary from the award-winning filmmaker Margot McCuaig and her production company, purpleTV.

purpleTV has won the RTS Best Sport Film award on three previous occasions, for Jock Stein, Jim Baxter and Tommy Burns.

Writer, producer and director, Margot McCuaig, said: “Elena Baltacha didn’t just pursue her dreams she embodied them.

“Her strength and resilience was manifested in the empowering manner in which she led both on and off the court.

“As a Scottish national hero, it is only just that her life should be celebrated in film and her achievements treasured as part of our rich cultural firmament.”

Elena Baltacha will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on Sunday 1 December at 9pm. It will be repeated on Thursday, December 5 at 10.15pm and Friday, December 6 at 9pm.

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