"When you're a tennis player, you don't have Christmas": Elina Svitolina and Gael Monfils shift family Christmas for ASB Classic

Tennis couple Elina Svitolina and Gael Monfils will celebrate Christmas with their one-year-old daughter Skaï a little early this year due to the requirements of the ASB Classic, at which both of them will be playing.

Svitolina and Monfils welcomed their daughter in October 2022, and have often spoken of the difficulties of balancing parenthood with the demanding life of being professional tennis players on the ATP and WTA Tours. Svitolina returned from maternity leave in April and both she and Monfils have since had periods of time off the circuit to spend with their daughter while absent due to injury.

Indeed, Svitolina has not played since the US Open, but the Ukrainian player's doctors recently gave her the green light to return to competition and she is not wasting any time in getting back out there, as both players have confirmed their participation at the ASB Classic in the first week of January 2024.

Monfils: Skaï is "too young to remember" right now

This means that they will have to move their Christmas Day celebrations forward a little bit to ensure Svitolina, who is competing in the first week of the competition, gets there on time. "Every three days we have this conversation," said Monfils, "But the latest is Elina will go to Auckland with our daughter, around December 24 or 25. So we’ll be spending Christmas a little bit earlier this year."

"It made sense that Elina comes a little bit early to adapt to it. I’m arriving in week two, so our daughter will stay week two with me and we’ll all join up in Melbourne," he said, while Svitolina added that "When you’re a tennis player, you don’t have these kinds of celebrations, like Christmas."

"You just keep going, keep practicing. This is the first week of the year, it’s really important, everyone wants to show off what they’ve been working on. So it’s a pressure moment, where you want to get out there early and prepare for the first tournaments of the year."

The players also explained that their decision was based on the fact that Skaï is too young to know whether or not they celebrated Christmas on actual Christmas Day, so they will still be able to spend precious family time together regardless.

"Our daughter is too young to remember," Monfils said, "If you take a picture on December 22 or 26 next to a Christmas tree, it will be the same for her. So we don’t yet have the pressure with that."

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