Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina has invited players from Russia and Belarus to come out and publicly announce Whether they are against the war in her homeland.
Svitolina – who has taken an indefinite break from the sport due to the conflict in her homeland – confirmed this week that she will also miss the French Open for the first time in a decade.
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The Roland Garros Grand Prix, which began in Paris on May 22, has taken a stand against Wimbledon by allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral players.
Wimbledon, which begins on June 27, has Players from those countries are banned from competing At the All England Club, protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The issue has been hugely controversial, with notable players such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic insisting that their Russian and Belarusian counterparts should be able to compete.
The ATP – the governing body for men’s tennis – has reportedly decided to select the players You will not be able to get ranking points On the main court – effectively shortening it to a very profitable occasional event.
Speaking about the ongoing drama, Svitolina said it was important for her and her fellow Ukrainian players that their Russian and Belarusian rivals denounce the war, otherwise they will suffer the consequences.
“For us, for the Ukrainians, it is very important that they speak out, choose which side they will join,” Svitolina told The Associated Press.
“We want to know, we want to feel safe about it. Because if they don’t say their opinion on this, we don’t know if they support their government, whether they support the work of the military.”
“Because sports in Russia and Belarus are big publicity.”
“I feel like they need to talk about their position, and that’s very important. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a Grand Slam or a (other) tournament.”
“I think that every Russian and Belarusian athlete should take his stand, so that we know that there are no bad people among us.”
Elena Svitolina focuses on Russian and Belarusian competitors
Svitolina was asked if any Russian and Belarusian players had personally told her that they were against war.
“Very few. It is very sad because so many athletes from different countries came to us and showed us their support.”
“That’s why it really hurts us and we don’t understand why they (Russia and Belarus players) didn’t do exactly that.”
While Svitolina will not compete in the French Open, she says she will continue to travel to Paris to support her tennis star husband, Gael Monfils.
Svitolina says the mental stress of events in Ukraine led to her taking a break from tennis, while also adding to stress from her ongoing back problems.
“For me, it was really tough two months mentally to hold everything on my shoulder.
“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 wasn’t like that.”
Given what Ukraine has been through, it is understandable that tennis is not the 27-year-old’s focus at the moment.
“I have a lot of things on my plate now,” she said. “I have my foundation, I try to do what I can for people in need. This is the priority, the foundation and my family.”
Her foundation helps Ukrainian children who have fled the warning-torn country.
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