Anhelina Kalinina trying to deliver a sliver of hope to Ukraine
Anhelina Kalinina delivered a message to the people of Ukraine after her semi-final win at the Italian Open.
Kalinina has received alarming updates from Kyiv, which is currently being subjected to renewed Russian bombardment, and said that she believes it is important to give some light and positivity to her compatriots.
She would reject the post-match handshake with Russian opponent Veronika Kudermetova and spoke of her desire to give hope to her fellow Ukrainians.
“It’s really important to win every match, because of what Ukraine goes through,” Kalinina said at the Foro Italico.
“I really hope that I give a tiny, small light, maybe some positive emotions for my country. I really hope that Ukraine a little bit enjoys [this].”
Kalinina has put in quite the effort this week to become the lowest-ranked Rome finalist since 1985.
She has done this while news has reached her of the intensified bombing of of Kyiv.
Kalanina revealed that a bomb had just recently exploded very close to the tennis Academy that her parents work at which is near the Kiev airport that was destroyed in the early days of the invasion.
“Yeah, near the tennis court,” Kalanina said.
“We have an academy, [then] maybe 300 meters [there is an] airport, and [now] there is no airport. This is how they live.”
Her hometown of Nova Kakhovka has been under Russian occupation since February 2022 and Kalanina says she has no contact with anyone in the city.
Kalanina added that her family had all repaired to Kyiv, the Capital city whose subway network doubles as a bomb shelter.
“I have no connections with Nova Kakhovka anymore because everyone is in Kyiv,” she said.
“I’m super happy because it’s absolutely impossible to stay, to live [there], because there was so many weapons, so many soldiers near my grandmother and grandfather’s house. It was absolutely not possible to live, to stay.
“They are very old people. So for them, it was very tough to make this decision to move from that city. They’re living 60 years there. We kind of pushed them, like, ‘You have to go.’ When the bomb came directly to their house, it was a couple of meters left, not exactly in their apartment, but left. They kind of wake up and realize, ‘Oh, my God, yeah, we have to move.'”
Kalanina says that she has been moved by the support the Italian crowd have offered her this week, saying that it felt like they were there just to cheer her on.
“I don’t remember where I was playing [but] almost for me it was like the whole stadium was cheering me up,” Kalinina said.
“It’s kind of amazing feeling. I have never experienced something like that. They bring so much energy to fight when you don’t even have energy to do that.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every person who was in the stadium from the first match till hopefully tomorrow I will have another match. Thanks for them. They kind of motivated me and they give me much more energy to fight.”
Kalanina faces Kazakhstan No 1 Elena Rybakina in the Italian Open final on Saturday.
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