Elina Svitolina says war at home in Ukraine has made playing tennis ‘really tough’ | Tennis News

Elina Svitolina says competing amid the ongoing war in Ukraine has been difficult, telling the Sky Sports Tennis Podcast that news from her home country “makes me cry”.

Svitolina’s family has been affected by the war in Ukraine, with her grandmother – who she remains in constant contact with – still based in her hometown of Odesa.

Despite the concern over the well-being of her loved ones back home, the world No 18 managed to reach her third career Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon last year. Svitolina had returned to tennis in April 2023 after the birth of her daughter.

“Sometimes it’s really tough,” Svitolona told the Sky Sports Tennis Podcast.

“I’m happy I have my team around me who understand this. I have friends who I speak to who help.

“I speak to her (grandmother) every single day, keep in contact and check on her mental health.

“My hometown has been attacked for many days now so it’s been really tough for everyone there. I try to check on them but the news from there makes me cry.”

Svitolina: Ukraine is my ‘happy place’

While her home country is at war, the 29-year-old uses tennis and her social media platforms to try and impact change for the young people affected by the conflict, also setting up the Elina Svitolina Foundation.

“When I got pregnant, the war just started so I had time to sit down and understand what I can do and how I can be helpful for my country,” she said.

“I’m in a safe place, travelling around the world, I have so many opportunities and that’s why I try to create projects for the mental health of the kids – this has been the mission for me and as a top athlete in Ukraine it’s important to use that.”

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine plays a forehand return to Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
Elina Svitolina managed to reach her third career Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon last year

Svitolina takes great pride in her nation, naming it her “happy place”.

“Every time I go back to Ukraine I get a lot of energy from the people,” she added.

“For me, when I leave after being in Ukraine, going to tournaments, I feel like I’m energised to give back to them. I want to show good results – they really motivate me a lot.

“I want to make Ukrainians happy, they are struggling right now, so playing tournaments, winning matches and bringing this little positivity to them, that’s what drives me.”


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