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Nino Severino: World’s best players will feature at Elena Baltacha Foundation Awards

Foundation Ambassador Jo Konta has recorded a personal message for the awards. Picture: PA

Foundation Ambassador Jo Konta has recorded a personal message for the awards. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

In his latest column, Nino Severino looks ahead to this weekend’s spectacular Elena Baltacha Foundation Awards at Trinity Park, which will feature some of the world’s best players.

Venus Williams and sister Serena have donated an award which is presented annually. Picture: PA SPORT Venus Williams and sister Serena have donated an award which is presented annually. Picture: PA SPORT

It’s been a very exciting week with all hands on deck within the Elena Baltacha Foundation Team, with everyone focusing on their final preparations in readiness for the prestigious awards at Trinity Park this Sunday.

This year’s awards will start a very special official relationship with our global Tennis governing body the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), who are working very closely with us to make the 2017 event an outstanding occasion.

This is the seventh year we have held the awards, which gives me the opportunity to celebrate our tennis talent and of course ensure that we celebrate the life of my wife, Elena Baltacha-Severino, and all she achieved during her tennis career and through her charitable works.

I have carried out a number of conference calls with Ann Austin, Senior WTA Charities Administrator from the WTA who is based in St Petersburgh Florida, USA, to discuss how they will help us make December 10 a night to remember.

Ann and the WTA team began their support for us at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore a few weeks ago, where they filmed personal messages from the world’s top eight players, to be shown on the two big screens for our award guests.

The players include Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Venus Williams, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia.

If that was not outstanding enough, our Foundation Ambassador Jo Konta, who is now in the world’s top 10 and our British number one, has also recorded a message.

This is extra special for me, as it shows how much respect my wife is given not only from the world’s top tennis players, but also the WTA.

Judy Murray, pictured with Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis player Tawana Senah, is a patron of the Baltacha Foundation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Judy Murray, pictured with Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis player Tawana Senah, is a patron of the Baltacha Foundation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

This year’s awards will undoubtedly be the biggest and the best, with over 300 guests attending to celebrate all the work and successes that the foundation has achieved in 2017.

The evening’s theme is Fire and Ice, and the experience will begin for all the guests as they arrive at Trinity Park venue in Ipswich.

The guests will have a choice, to either walk through the magnificent fire or ice magnificent entrances which will lead to the red carpet experience and on to the stunning main venue which will be adorned with the theme.

As part of the evening schedule, our guests will then enjoy watching many of the VIP’s, celebrities and dignitaries presenting the awards that will be given out to the players, these include the Serena and Venus Williams Vase and the Judy Murray Award, personally given to us by the famous sisters and Judy Murray.

We are now entering a very exciting phase, with so many fantastic opportunities. The WTA have honoured Elena in the perfect way, by offering to support her foundation through the work carried out with young growing girls.

With them, we are exploring how we can now go to the next level and effect thousands of young girls’ lives as they take their early steps through life.

The WTA are a perfect support for our foundation, many of their focuses are very similar to ours. They want to ensure that the charities they support continually reach out into the community, which includes grassroots tennis programs that promote opportunity, personal achievement, self-esteem and respect.

They also focus on advancing lives through empowerment, equality and care for others. All these qualities were very important to my wife as she built her foundation.

Elena is still an inspiration, her vision, her legacy is as strong as ever, and lives on through me, patrons Judy Murray and Martina Navratilova, and also the many ambassadors and official foundation friends, also her devoted team and the many thousands of children who benefit from the foundation’s activities every year.

We are all very excited to have the WTA’s support which means we will be able to affect so many more girls’ lives in such a positive way through sport.

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