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Ukraine’s Kalinina: “The more I win, the more I can help people back at home”

The Ukrainian reminded the world watching Wimbledon that the war in her homeland is still raging

Anhelina Kalinina Wimbledon 2022 Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina in action during her first round match against Hungary’s Anna Bondar (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina – in the main draw of Wimbledon for the first time – won her opening match against Anna Bondar 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, and then revealed a little of the torment she has gone through in recent months as war has ravaged her homeland.

She confirmed what compatriot Lesia Tsurenko had said earlier in the day – that her parents’ home had been bombed, but they were all safe.

“Their house was attacked. There are huge holes in the house, like huge holes. There are no apartments anymore. So now this home is getting rebuilt, so they can’t live there. So they live in my apartment where I’m living with my husband. It’s a very small apartment for my family, because, like, my mum, my dad, my brother, and they have pets. So they are so happy and we are grateful that they can move, you know, that they have place to move from Irpin city because Irpin city, everyone knows how Bucha, Irpin, is fully bombed.

Anhelina Kalinina serves at Wimbledon in 2022 (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

“Currently, they are rebuilding the house. Now they are at home safe. They have everything. Yes, I’m grateful that they have opportunities to live, and I am playing tennis. So that’s good.”

Kalinina: I’m not a superstar but I’m helping with what I can

Kalinina will play Tsurenko in the second round – and although she acknowledged that with the violence continuing in her country it was hard to concentrate, she is determined to win more matches.

“I understand it’s hard to focus, but for me it matters if I win or if I lose, because more I win, of course I’ve got currently money,” she said. “I’m not only helping my family, I’m helping other families and other people, and there really, how to say, it’s not a pressure, it’s a privilege to play here. It’s a privilege to play every tournament, and to get the quality of the game means better events. You go further. You earn more money. Then I’m able to help, and I’m helping as much as I can and not only to my family. So for me that matters.”

She added: “I’m helping a lot to my family. I’m helping a lot to my grandmother and grandfather who is in occupied territory now. They can’t leave. So next door is like Russian soldiers with all their military stuff.

“So, yes, I’m helping my – not even friends, I can’t even say that they are friends, but I’m helping as much as I can to the people that I even don’t know sometimes, as much as I can. I’m not a superstar so I’m helping with what I can. And it’s a lot to them, and for me that’s huge motivation to play. Huge.”

Kalinina: We can’t compare ranking points with war

Inevitably, the 25-year-old was asked for her opinions on Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players – and the tours’ retaliation by removing ranking points from the tournament.

“We can’t compare WTA points,” she said. “We cannot compare this ban of these players to what’s going on currently in Ukraine. We cannot compare this what they are now missing and how many millions of people are killed, still dying, and how many refugees are brought and surviving, with mothers with their kids, people are out of money, out of family, out of their jobs. They don’t have anything. They are like homeless.

“So we can’t compare these things. So I cannot be normal to all this.”

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