Svitolina announces break from tennis after "extremely difficult time" following Russia's invasion of Ukraine

World No.20 Elina Svitolina says she has had an "extremely difficult couple of months" and will be taking a break from tennis.

The Ukrainian has played three tournaments since her home country was invaded by Russia. She lost to Heather Watson in the first round of the Miami Open and revealed she has been struggling with a back issue. The former World No.3 will now take some time away from tennis and won’t play the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers for Ukraine against USA on April 15 and 16.

"It’s been an extremely difficult couple of months for me, not only mentally but also physically,” Svitolina said on Twitter. "For quite a long time I’ve been struggling with my back. The pain didn’t let me prepare for the tournaments at my best.

“Meanwhile, observing with unbearable pain in my heart what is happening in my homeland of Ukraine and with how much bravery and courage our Ukrainian people are defending our country, this gave me a huge push to continue and fight on court.

“Now my body can’t handle it anymore and I need to rest. Therefore, I’m sad to announce that I will be missing Fed Cup and a few of my favourite tournaments in Europe.

“But I’m sure I will see you around soon. Thank you for all your support in this challenging period.”

Svitolina threatened to boycott a match earlier this month against Russia's Anastasia Potapova unless tennis authorities ruled that Russian and Belarusian tennis players had to compete as “neutral athletes”. That rule has since been enforced and Svitolina won two matches at the Monterrey Open before losing in the quarter-finals.

The 27-year old may return for the WTA 500 Stuttgart Open on April 18 or the WTA 1000 Madrid Open on April 28. The French Open starts on May 22.

Russia and Belarus have been banned from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

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