Ukrainian tennis ace, Elina Svitolina has called all players from Belarus and Russia to publicly declare their views on the war and pick sides in their fight against her homeland.
Svitolina, who herself has taken an indefinite break from the game due to the ongoing conflict in her home, said that she will not take part in the French Open and will stay back home. This is the first time in a decade that the Ukrainian ace will miss the French Open.
“For us, for Ukrainians, it’s very important that they speak out, that they choose which side they take,” Svitolina told the Associated Press.
“We want to know, we want to feel safe about that. Because if they don’t say their opinion on this, we don’t know if they support their government, if they support the action of the army. Because in Russia and Belarus sport is a big propaganda. I feel like they need to speak up about their position, this is very important. Doesn’t matter if it’s in a Grand Slam or (another) tournament.”
“I think every Russian and Belarusian athlete should take their position, so that we know that there is no bad people among us.”
Svitolina was asked if any Russian and Belarusian players personally told her they are against the war.
“Very few. This is very sad because many athletes from different countries came up to us and showed us their support,” Svitolina added.
“That’s why it really hurts us and we don’t understand why exactly they (Russian and Belarusian players) didn’t.”
“For me it’s been a really rough couple of months mentally to hold everything on my shoulders. That’s why it was a better decision to take my time to really settle down. To be on top of the game you have to be 100% mentally and physically fit. For me it was not the case.”
Given what Ukraine has been going through, tennis is understandably not the 27-year-old’s focus right now. “I have lots of things on my plate right now,” she said. “I have my foundation; I try to do as much as I can for people who are in need. This is the priority, the foundation and my family.”
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_zmL_lXzmQ