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Ipswich tennis star gets honorary degree

Britain’s number 1 women's tennis player Elena Baltacha has been given an Honorary Doctorate from University Campus Suffolk. Photo:

Britain’s former number 1 women's tennis player Elena Baltacha has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University Campus Suffolk (UCS) for her sporting achievements and helping to develop young talent.

The world number 135 received the award on Wednesday at the Ipswich Town Hall and Corn Exchange in recognition of her professional achievements in the sport as well as her commitment to developing young talent through the Ipswich-based Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis which she opened in 2010.

“This is a wonderful honour and I'd like to thank the University. East Anglia has played such a massive part in my life so it's particularly nice for me to be honoured here."

– Elena Baltacha
Elena Baltacha is consoled by a Great Britain staff member, after losing her Second Round match of the Women's Singles at the 2012 Olympics Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

Elena's career has seen her win ten International Tennis Federation single titles and four doubles titles. Until recently, she had held the ranking of the number 1 British female tennis player intermittently since 2002 and achieved a top ranking of the number 52 seed in the world in 2010.

She has played professional tennis for 12 years and earned a wild-card entry to represent Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. She is a second generation Olympian, following in the footsteps of her mother and father who both qualified in their respective disciplines to represent the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics.

Elena playing in a second round singles match at Wimbledon 2012. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Press Association Images

UCS is a partnership between the University of East Anglia and the University of Essex, working with Lowestoft College, Great Yarmouth College, Otley College, Suffolk New College and West Suffolk College.

Elena was introduced to the stage to collect her award by Paul Driscoll, UCS Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“Elena represents the very best attributes of the professional athlete; she is passionately committed to her goals and is, possibly, the most driven person I have had the pleasure to meet.”

– Paul Driscoll, University Campus Suffolk
Celebrating victory in the first round of the women's singles at Wimbledon 2012 Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire/Press Association Images