LONDON 2012: Olympics is nothing but a family thing for Team GB's Baltacha
ELENA Baltacha is in no doubt about the importance of the Olympics in crowded big-money tennis schedule - claiming it's just as important as the Grand Slams.
HOPEFUL: Elena Baltacha is ranked number 100 in the world and is one of two Team GB players, the other is Anne Keothavong, in the Olympic women's singles draw (Getty Images)
Baltacha is one of two British women entered in the women's singles draw and she believes the sport is slowing shedding its reputation for not taking the Games as seriously as its four major tournaments.
British number four Baltacha is ranked 100 in the world but insists she won't be there to make up the numbers at the All England Club.
She follows in the footsteps of father Sergei, who won Olympic football bronze with the Soviet Union in 1980, and athlete mother Olga, who was selected for the same Games but didn't attend.
"It means a lot to me to represent my country I'm very passionate about that and to be given that opportunity especially with the Olympics being here at home, I think I still have to pinch myself to be honest to believe that I am going to be an Olympian," said Baltacha, who carried the Olympic torch earlier this month.
"My dad won bronze in the 1980 Moscow Olympics and my mum got selected but couldn't go in the end because she had to look after my brother, and the fact I am an Olympian now as well to add that to the family history is just absolutely amazing.
"My mum is actually coming down to be part of it and I can't wait to experience it with her.
"I'm playing well and I feel very good and I'm just really looking forward to when the draw comes out and giving it everything I have."
Baltacha will be joined in the singles draw by British number two Anne Keathavong, who grew up in Hackney just a few miles from the Olympic stadium.
The pair will also join forces to contest the women's doubles while rising stars Laura Robson and new British number one Heather Watson, whose run to Wimbledon's third round came just too late for selection in the singles event, have also been named.
"I have been on clay for the last two weeks so it is going to be a bit of a difference moving back on to grass," said former junior Wimbledon champion Robson.
"I made the semi-final in Palermo, which is the best I have ever done at a WTA event, and Heather won in the doubles in Stanford, so we are both playing really well and are both confident going into the Games.
"There is lots of things we can improve and we have only been playing together for a short time, so we will just have to work as hard as we can in the next week.
"We are not really putting any expectations on it, we are going to enjoy ourselves and go as far as we can."
© Sportsbeat 2012