WATCH: Elina Svitolina breaks down after ‘incredibly sad day for all Ukrainians’ as she opens up about ‘guilty feeling’

Shahida Jacobs
Elina Svitolina thanks the crowd
Elina Svitolina gestures to the crowd after her match

Elina Svitolina booked her place in the quarter-final of Wimbledon but instead of tears of joy after the match, there were plenty of tears of sadness.

Hours before Svitolina defeated Wang Xinyu 6,-2, 6-2 at the All England Club, a Russian airstrike hit a children’s hospital in Kyiv. It was one of several missile strikes in Ukraine on Monday that left at least 36 civilians dead and more than 150 injured.

The Ukrainian wore a black ribbon on her white shirt at Wimbledon in honour of those who were killed and was overcome with emotion during her on-court interview.

“Sure it was a good performance from my side today and you know it’s um very difficult day today for Ukrainian people,” she started off before breaking down.

“It was not easy to focus today on the match. Since the morning it was difficult to read the news just to go on the court is extremely is tough. I’m happy I could play today and get a win.”

The 21st seed, who will face former champion Elena Rybakina in the last eight, opened up in the post-match press conference about the guilt she feels when good things happen to her while those in Ukraine are suffering.

“I think for many Ukrainians they will share this feeling with me. We feel guilt that we feel happy or that we feel good. Not only because I’m in the quarter-final of the Grand Slam, but in everything,” the former world No 3 said.

“Like you go on holidays, you feel guilty because you’re not in Ukraine. Many people cannot leave the country. Many people are at the war. Many people are fighting, defending our front lines.

“Yeah, I think we’ve been living with this feeling for over two years. I mean, it’s nothing new. But yes, of course, it’s not a pleasant feeling to have.”

Svitolina hails from Odessa in Ukraine, but she resides in Monaco with her husband Gael Monfils and their daughter Skai.

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But her Ukrainian roots still run deep.

“I have my family there. My dad just was there for a couple of weeks to see my grandmother. I have my uncle. His family is there. I have many friends there. Pretty much everyone is based in Ukraine,” she said.

“I have contact pretty much every single day. I’ve been talking, yeah, on a daily basis with Sergiy Stakhovsky [former Ukrainian tennis player] as well. I guess you guys know him. Also a well-known name in tennis.

“He’s helping a lot with my foundation. He’s my close friend. It was nice to hear from him and hear also what is really happening. To not only find out the news from the media, but also from my friends and family.

“It’s nice to hear their voices. Of course, sad voices, but in a way it still warms my heart when I speak with them.”