Elina Svitolina reveals divide between Ukrainian and Russian tennis players

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in action

Elina Svitolina has expressed her disappointment in the behaviour of some Russian tennis players who seemingly “try to avoid” her and other Ukrainians on the WTA Tour.

The world number 25 has been extremely vocal on social media since the invasion of her country and also spoke out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from Wimbledon this year.

Svitolina has revealed she does not agree with the boycott but wants to see the players themselves do more in terms of speaking out.

Since Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian athletes have still been eligible to compete in sport, but under neutral participation.

The players have not featured under their national flags, and their national anthems have not been played before matches.

Svitolina recently stated that she believes the ATP and WTA should enforce bans on players from Russia and Belarus who have failed to denounce the invasion of Ukraine.

“We noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players at some point vaguely mentioned the war, but never clearly stating that Russia and Belarus started it on the territory of Ukraine,” she wrote in a statement.

“The very silence of those who choose to remain that way right now is unbearable as it leads to the continuation of murder in our homeland.

Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine plays a forehand against Harriet Dart of Great Britain in their second round match on Day 5 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 11, 2022 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“We demand that the WTA, ATP and ITF make sure that players who represent Russia and Belarus answer the following questions:

“1. Do you support Russia’s and Belarus invasion in Ukraine’s territory and as a result of that the war started by those countries?

“2. Do you support Russia’s and Belarus military activities in Ukraine?

“3. Do you support Putin’s and Lukashenko’s regime?

“If applicable, we demand to exclude and ban any Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in any events.”

Wimbledon ban

The Wimbledon ban has sparked a lot of debate among fans and professionals alike. Novak Djokovic and Martian Navratilova both recently slammed the decision from the organisers.

Svitolina has also discussed her stance on the Wimbledon ban and believes being able to beat Russian and Belarusian players will provide “additional motivation.”

She also revealed a shift in working relationships between Russian and Ukrainian players on the WTA Tour and she criticised the new lack of communication.

“I don’t think that a boycott is [the] right thing. On the contrary, we need to beat them on courts, to look for additional motivation in this.

“I think this should not be done anywhere in sports. We must go out and win. And the Russians and Belarusians should simply express their exact position publicly.

“My statement about removing the [Russian] flag helped a little. But not expressing their opinion about the actions of their government is still mentally wrong on their part. This gives more motivation to defeat them.

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“Now it looks like the Russian players try to avoid us, so we won’t meet each other or have a conversation. And words of support were expressed by only a few people who asked about my family or if everyone was alive.

“It’s still a mystery to me how it is possible that you can’t show humanity. Although we see each other every week, our communication has gone to zero — even with those who used to say ‘Hello’.”

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