Elina Svitolina news: Ukrainian player opens up on why family is her current priority

Elina Svitolina and Gael Monfils at the Australian Open 2022

Elina Svitolina made the decision two months ago to take some time away from court due to the “unbearable pain” in her heart following Russia’s invasion of her home country of Ukraine.

Although it has been a very stressful time for the Olympic bronze medallist, last week she announced she was expecting a baby with her husband Gael Monfils which is due in October.

The Odessa-born player was also suffering with a back injury when she decided to step away from the sport for a short while, but has also revealed that she needed to spend time with her family who have now fled the country, however her grandmother remains in the war-torn region.

“It was tough for me to deal with everything, it was a mixture of everything and it was a lot of my shoulders, that’s why taking time to settle down and spending time with my family was the best decision, particularly with everything that is happening over the last few days,” the 27-year-old told the Olympics website.

“I speak with her (her grandmother) as often as I can, there are a lot of explosions and she’s been in the basement for most of the time – hopefully she is safe.

“I have been staying in contact as much as I can, but it’s not always possible, I just cross my fingers and pray that everything is fine out there.”

Not only has Svitolina been going to her tennis playing husband for support, but she’s also found strength by looking at the what the people in Ukraine are going through and coping with.

“Gael has been here every step of the way, he is a huge support. Obviously he sees that I’m not in the best mood everyday, there are ups and downs so I’m really thankful for his support, I know it’s difficult for him to see me sad,” she explained.

“I take strength from all the people who are there right now in Ukraine, I cannot imagine what they are going through, how mentally difficult it is. And I take what they do, how much strength and bravery they show – I take it as a huge motivation to wake up every day and do something for people who are in need, to do something that can help people.

“Right now we’re helping kids who are playing tennis, the goal is to give them a chance to keep pursuing their tennis dreams. We give them the opportunity to continue training in Europe, my foundation is paying for their accommodation, food and training – it’s really important to give them a chance to keep dreaming and keep playing the sport they love.”

Svitolina and Monfils are expecting a girl in October.