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The World Sport in mourning: Valeria Titova passed away

2010-10-13 09:19:00 FIG

Lausanne (SUI), 12 October 2010: Valeria Kuzmenko Titova, wife of the Honorary President of the FIG Yuri Titov, died on October 9 in San Francisco, overcome by illness. She was 77 years old.

Valeria Titova was one of the most popular figures in the sporting world of the former Soviet Union. Born in Ukraine, on February 28, 1934, she enjoyed great success in women’s tennis at a very young age thanks to her extraordinary talent. A member of the USSR national team, she reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon (GBR) and had a brilliant career.

In the 1950s, as a student at Kiev University, she met a young gymnast from Omsk (RUS) named Yuri Titov, whom she married in 1960. She was at his side throughout a glittering sporting career that included 11 World Championship titles. In 1976 she became “First Lady” of the International Gymnastics Federation when husband Yuri was elected President of the FIG, a position in which he was succeeded by Prof. Bruno Grandi in 1996 in Atlanta.

Yuri and Valeria had two children, Anna and Slava, as well as three grandchildren upon whom they lavished all of their affection.

The entire international gymnastics community sends heartfelt condolences to its Honorary President, Yuri Titov, as well as to the family and friends of the late Valeria Titova. phs

Tribute to a legend.

by Ms Vera Atkinson.
Following years of fighting against cancer, Valeria Kuzmenko Titova, the wife of the Honorary President of the FIG Yuri Titov, passed away in San Francisco (USA) on Saturday October 09, 2010.

Born and brought up in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, the daughter of a famous football player, Ivan Kuzmenko, who played for the local “Dynamo” team before moving along with his family to the Ukrainian capital, to join the famous club, “Dynamo” Kiev. During 1936-1937 he was part of the teams who played the English team “Arsenal”, and also teams from France and Turkey.

As soon as Germany declared war on the USSR (21 June 1941), her father joined the Red Army, along with his team mates from “Dynamo” Kiev. Captured by the Germans, he was forced to take part in the historic “Match to the Death” between local footballers and a German team on 6 August 1942 in Kiev. The story served as the basis for a U.S. film starring the famous Brazilian Pele and Sylvester Stallone. Not long after this match Ivan Kuzmenko was deported to a concentration camp and killed along with two of his team mates.  He died at the age of 27.

Valeria became involved in Tennis at the age of 12 under her first coach Vladimir Maximovich Balve in Kiev. She quickly progressed to the top echelon of the Ukrainian / Soviet players, winning junior and senior titles and other competitions across the country.  Her first international competition was in 1953, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in a junior competition between the former USSR and Poland.

The year 1960 was one of the most successful and eventful in her life. She became Champion of the USSR in Women’s Doubles (along with Anna Dmitrieva) and Mixed Doubles (with Michal Mozer). Together with Moser and Sergei Likhachev, she was the first soviet player to take part in the famous French tournament “Roland Garros” in Paris.

By the end of that year, on 12 November 1960 Valeria married Yuri Titov, an elite Soviet and International gymnast, originally from Siberia (Omsk) who had moved to work and train in Kiev.

Valeria reached the peak of her tennis career in 1961 when she took part in the most popular tennis event in the world, Wimbledon, where she reached the ¼ Final in the Women’s Doubles together with Anna Dmitrieva.

A year later, in 1962 during the World Gymnastics Championships in Prague (where he became World Champion), Yuri Titov received a telegram informing him of the birth of their first child, Svetoslav (who is now a Bio-physician and lives with his family in San Francisco, USA).

The second child of Yuri and Valeria, their daughter Anna, was born in 1965. She is now a philologist and is married to a famous, former ballet dancer of the Bolshoi (in the 80s), Yuri Posokhov, who subsequently became a member of the Royal Danish Theatre and is currently a choreographer in San Francisco.  Valeria and Yuri have three grandchildren.

After the birth of their children Valeria continued competing until the end of the 60’s. Then the young family moved to Moscow where Yuri was offered a new position.

The next chapter of Victoria’s life was closely related to the major (and the only one at the time) Soviet company “Intourist”, dealing with international tourism, where she was trained in and later  mastered English, Arts, Geography, Politics and  Management.
Valeria was always Yuri’s biggest supporter and helper, especially during the years of his Presidency of the FIG between 1976 and 1996. It deserves mentioning that during all the 20 years, of his presidency, she never accompanied him on his trips to the Headquarters of the FIG in Moutier. She only visited Switzerland at a later date, as a result of personal invitation.

Between 1990 and 1994 Valeria played a key part in the tennis training camps for young Russian talents staged in Indianapolis (USA). Anna Kurnikova and Marat Safin were part of the very first group of Russian children who travelled to the USA. The project was launched by Valeria’s close friend Barbara Winn, a member of the American Tennis Association and organiser of the tennis tournament Virginia Slims in Indianapolis.

The Russian Kremlin Cup Tennis Tournament initiated in 1990, also saw Valeria closely involved with the hospitality of a long list of stars and dignitaries. There is hardly a big name in the world of tennis who has not at some stage in their life met Valeria Titova - Billie Jean King, Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Roger Federer and the Williams sisters, to name but a few!

For many years she was a technical commentator for the leading Russian TV Sports Channel NTV +, created and still run by Valeria’s team mate and a lifelong friend Anna Dmitrieva.

Valeria’s strong character, energy, intelligence and presence won her the unanimous respect of all those whom she met. She will be remembered as an extraordinary sportswoman, professional, author of her book “A gift from the Gods”, loving wife and mother.

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