“Bringing happiness to Ukraine makes my heart melt” – Svitolina on the motivation and responsibility of representing her country

Elina Svitolina has been a vocal supporter of her country

Elina Svitolina Elina Svitolina at Wimbledon in 2023 (Chryslene Caillaud/Panoramic)

Elina Svitolina is into the second Wimbledon semi-final of her career, less than a year after giving birth to her first child, and over a year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She has been vocal about representing her country – as well as her refusal to shake hands with players from Russia or Belarus – and told journalists that reaching the last four in SW19 meant a lot to her and to her compatriots.

“I know that lots of people back in Ukraine [are] watching,” she said. “I got really massive amount of messages from last round. I didn’t really check my phone yet today, but I think there will be a lot of messages, a lot of news.

“I’m happy I can bring [a] little happiness to their life. There was many videos also on Internet where the kids are watching on their phones. This really makes my heart melt seeing this. Just happy I could bring little happiness to people of Ukraine.”

Svitolina: I am a different person now

She wondered whether the changes in her life over the last 18 months have also changed her mindset since returning to the tour following her maternity leave.

“I think war made me stronger and also made me, like, mentally stronger. Mentally I don’t take difficult situations as like a disaster, you know? There are worse things in life. I’m just more calmer.

“I think also, because I’m just started to play again, I have different pressures. Of course, I want to win. I have this motivation, like huge motivation, to come back to the top. But I think having a child, and war, made me a different person. I look at the things a bit differently.”

It is possible that Svitolina will face another Belarusian – Aryna Sabalenka – in the final, and she has already considered that possibility, although she did not want to dwell on it.

“Each time I play against them, it’s big motivation, big responsibility as well for me. Different motivation as well for my country.

“But right now it’s very, very far. It seems very close, but it’s very far from this. Still I have to win some matches. They have to win some matches. So let’s stay here right now.”

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