scorecardUkrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina pledges to donate prize money to her country's army after defeating Russia's Anastasia Potapova at Monterrey Open
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Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina pledges to donate prize money to her country's army after defeating Russia's Anastasia Potapova at Monterrey Open

Waiyee Yip   

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina pledges to donate prize money to her country's army after defeating Russia's Anastasia Potapova at Monterrey Open
LifeInternational2 min read
  • Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina has pledged to donate her prize money to the Ukrainian army.
  • "I was on a mission for my country," she said after beating Russia's Anastasia Potapova on Tuesday.

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina has pledged to donate her prize money to her country's army after defeating Russia's Anastasia Potapova at the Monterrey Open in Mexico on Tuesday.

"I was on a mission for my country," Svitolina said in an on-court interview after the opening-round match, which drew a roar from the audience, per CNN.

Dressed in the Ukrainian flag colors of yellow and blue, the 27-year-old said it was "a very special match for me," adding: "I'm in a very sad mood, but I'm happy that I'm playing tennis here."

On Monday, Svitolina posted a statement on Instagram, announcing she would not play any Russian or Belarusian tennis players unless they competed under a neutral banner, as a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko is Putin's closest international ally amid the invasion.

Svitolina agreed to play Potapova on Tuesday after the international governing bodies of tennis issued a joint statement that Russia and Belarus athletes would not be able to compete in international tennis events under their national flags.

"All the prize money I earn here is going to the Ukrainian army," Svitolina said after the match, per the AP. The Monterrey Open champion will be awarded $31,000, according to the news agency.

Svitolina's pledge reiterates her promise on Sunday to donate the prize money from her tournaments to Ukraine military and relief efforts. In an open letter addressed to her country and posted on Twitter, she wrote: "I commit to redistribute the prize money from my next tournaments to support army and humanitarian needs and help them to defend You, our country."

"I am devastated, my eyes won't stop crying, my heart won't stop bleeding," she wrote.

Svitolina will next play Bulgarian athlete Viktoriya Tomova on Friday.

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