Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina donned the yellow and blue colors of her country’s flag and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6–2, 6–1 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Monterrey Open.
After the match, she vowed to donate all of the prize money that she won at the tournament this year to the Ukrainian army.
“Today it was a very special match for me,” the 27-year-old Svitolina said. “I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here.
“I was focused. I was on a mission for my country. From the beginning, it was important to be ready for anything that comes my way.”
Svitolina, who is the top-ranked player in the draw at the Monterrey Open and the event’s defending champion, had said earlier this week that she wouldn’t play against Potapova or against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours barred competitors from those countries from ”displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems.”
“I do not blame any of the Russian athletes,” she wrote in an Instagram post Monday. “They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland. Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and [sic] Belarussians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential.”
The international governing bodies of tennis released a joint statement on Tuesday that athletes from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to compete in international competitions, but not under the name or flag of their countries. The WTA and ATP boards also decided to suspend the combined event set in Moscow this October.
“A deep sense of distress, shock and sadness has been felt across the entire tennis community following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the past week,” the statement says. “Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and we commend the many tennis players who have spoken out and taken action against this unacceptable act of aggression. We echo their calls for the violence to end and peace to return.”
Svitolina is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist with 16 career singles titles. She is currently ranked No. 15 in the world.
Svitolina’s next match will be against Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova in the round of 16 on Thursday.
More Sports Illustrated Coverage:
- F1: It‘s ‘Impossible’ to Hold Russian Grand Prix Given ‘Current Circumstances’
- Abramovich Gives ‘Stewardship and Care’ of Chelsea to Trustees Following Russia Invasion
- NHL Condemns Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Suspends Relationships with Russian Partners
- Report: Veteran NBA Guard Shabazz Napier Leaving Russian Team Amid Ukraine Conflict
original source: Elina Svitolina vows to donate Monterrey Open prize money to Ukrainian army – Sports Illustrated