Ukraine news: Elina Svitolina dedicates Monterrey Open victory to Ukrainian army

Ukraine

Ukraine’s women’s number one Elina Svitolina dedicated her victory over Russia’s Anastasia Potapova at the Monterrey Open to the Ukrainian army, and said she wanted to “unite” tennis behind her country.

Svitolina had refused to play against any Russian or Belarusian opponents due to the invasion of her homeland, if the WTA failed to implement measures recommended by the IOC.

Svitolina relented after tennis’ governing bodies announced players from those countries had to compete under a neutral flag.

After her 6-2 6-1 win, the world number 15, playing in the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag, told a press conference: “I had a couple of meetings with the WTA and I was happy they answered the two things we wanted, the neutral flag and suspension of tournaments, so everything was done and that’s why I was on court tonight.

“It’s a special win, because what we are going through right now in Ukraine is terrifying. It’s been six days that we have been really struggling. All the Ukraine tennis players and Ukrainians in general have been really terrified.

“For me, I’m not playing only for myself, I’m playing for my country. I’m playing for the help of the Ukrainian army and people in need, so this victory is very special. I’m playing for all Ukrainians.

“I think it’s my mission to unite our tennis community to stand with Ukraine, to help Ukraine, because what we’re going through is a horrible thing for all Ukrainians.

“That is my mission. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing for my country and doing my best to use my platform to try to invite people to support Ukraine.”

Svitolina’s 21-year-old compatriot Dayana Yastremska also won her first match this week at the Lyon Open.

“I’m happy that I won for my country, but at the same time I’m very sad,” said Yastremska, who wrapped herself in a Ukrainian flag after her 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(7) victory. “My heart stays at home, and my mind is fighting here, so it’s very difficult to find the concentration, to find the balance.

“This win, compared to what’s going on in my country, is nothing. But I’m happy, at least, I’m also fighting for my country. I’m really proud of the Ukrainians and they’re really heroes. I hope everything is going to finish soon.”

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