A Ukrainian tennis star choked up over 'terrifying' situation in her home country after her win against a Russian opponent
- Ukrainian tennis star Evina Svitolina bested Russia's Anastasia Potapova at the Monterrey Open.
- The world No. 15 then spoke to the media about the "terrifying" situation unfolding in her home country.
Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina played for more than just herself Tuesday night.
The world's 15th-ranked player bested Russia's Anastasia Potapova in straight sets at the Monterrey Open in Mexico, then discussed the "terrifying" situation unfolding in her home nation with the media after the match.
"What we are going through right now in Ukraine, it's terrifying," Svitolina said, per the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). "It's been six days, and all the Ukrainian tennis players and Ukrainians who are there, we have been really terrified with what is happening."
Svitolina initially refused to play Tuesday's match against Potapova, a 20-year-old who hails from Saratov, Russia. But when the WTA joined the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), barring Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing under their nation's flags, the 27-year-old Odessa native reversed course.
"For me, playing the match here, I'm not playing only for myself," Svitolina explained after Monday's match. "I'm playing for my country. I'm playing for the help of the Ukrainian army and people in need. Every victory that I'm gonna get is going to be very special."
"I think it's my mission to unite our tennis community to stand with Ukraine because what we're going through is a horrible thing for all Ukrainians," she added.
After taking down Potapova in just over an hour, Svitolina explained that she was extra "focused" because "I was on a mission for my country."
She then pledged all of the prize money she will earn from the tournament to Ukraine's army.
"It's a very, very special event, this one, for me," Svitolina said during her on-court interview following the win. "All the prize money that I'm going to earn here is going to the Ukrainian army."
"So thank you so much for your support," she added, choking up.
—wta (@WTA) March 2, 2022
Svitolina, who wore Ukraine's yellow and blue colors for the round-of-32 match, is competing half a world away as her home country faces an invasion from neighboring nations Russia and Belarus. Spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin and aided by Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko, forces began attacking cities across Ukraine — including the capital of Kyiv — in late February to initiate Europe's most serious ground war since World War II.
As Putin and his allies continue to ramp up their attacks, Ukraine is in serious jeopardy of falling into Russian control.
The sports world has been quick to protest Russia's and Belarus' aggression towards its neighbor. Ukrainian athletes have been vocal in their opposition to Putin's antics, and even some brave Russian competitors — such as Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev — have publicly called for peace.
Even major sports governing bodies, including FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, have prohibited Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in international sporting events.
While the reaction across the sports world has been swift, the political world's response does not appear to have deterred Putin from directly violating Ukraine's sovereignty. The result will likely have dire consequences across the globe.
Insider's live blog of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is covering developments as they happen.
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