Svitolina struggling to keep focus on tennis with Ukraine situation heavily on her mind
Despite everything going on in her home country of Ukraine, Elina Svitolina has tried to remain focused on the tennis court, but it has not been easy.
Under normal circumstances, it would be fair to say that the two players battled or clashed in the heat and humidity of a Miami Open match that ran past 2½ hours. But as the world knows now, circumstances in Ukraine – where Svitolina was born – are far from normal. The country is under siege, fighting a war with Russia it didn’t ask for.
Her parents – father Mykhaylo and mother Olena – escaped to somewhere in Europe a few weeks ago, joining some 3.5 million other refugees who have fled, approaching 10 percent of the population. Her uncle, aunt and grandmother from her mother’s side were not so lucky. A few days ago, they heard explosions for the first time.
“Before, Odesa was safer than Kyiv or eastern Ukraine. I spoke to my grandmother, who lives by the sea. She said they were launching rockets from ships, right into the city. They are very scared. For the past few days, I’ve been really worried for their safety."
Asked about tennis, she said:
“It was quite tough to focus. Very tough, mentally, to go on the court. I know I tried to be brave and face the challenges. I would say that I’m not 100 percent. And talking to the other Ukrainian players in Indian Wells and Miami, they have been struggling, too. We are telling each other, yeah, we are here and then sometimes we are not here."