Elina Svitolina will give all her prize money to Ukraine 🇺🇦
Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina won a small victory in the name of her country on Tuesday, when she beat Russian player Anastasia Potapova in an emotional showdown at the Monterrey Open.
Dressed in her country's yellow and blue colors, Svitolina basically ran over Potapova at the tournament in Mexico, winning 6-2, 6-1 to take the first-round match.
Svitolina saluted the crowd in a tearful moment after the victory, as the audience showed support for her country in its fight against a Russian invasion.
"I'm not playing only for myself," she said, per The Guardian. "I'm playing for my country."
As her voice cracked during a post-match interview, Svitolina said she hopes to win the tournament for Ukraine, and every dollar she wins will go straight to the fight for her homeland.
"It's a very, very special event, this one, for me. All the prize money that I am going to earn here is going to the Ukrainian army, so thank you so much for the support," she said.
The tennis star took to her social media to post a photo of herself with her hand in her heart, with the caption "On the mission," followed by trending hashtags such as #StandingwithUkraine.
On the mission \n\n#Ukraine #StandingWithUkraine #\u0423\u043a\u0440\u0430\u0457\u043d\u0430pic.twitter.com/D3FyuF6yXH— Elina Monfils (@Elina Monfils) 1646194974
Svitolina had initially announced on social media that she would not play against the Russian Potapova, whose country invaded her own.
However, when Russian and Belarusian players were banned by tennis authorities from competing under their countries' names - which Svitolina had suggested - she proceeded with playing the tournament.
The International Tennis Federation announced sanctions against Russia and its close ally, Belarus, over the Ukraine invasion on Tuesday.
The ITF suspended both countries' tennis federations, and ruled that their athletes could only compete as individuals and "not under any name or flag until further notice."
Potapova seemed to address the match in her own Instagram post on Tuesday.
"It is difficult to explain to people from politics that for me there is no opponent from any country," she wrote. "Unfortunately, now we, professional athletes, are essentially becoming hostages of the current situation."
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