Wimbledon: All-Ukrainian match goes beyond tennis

However, the Ukrainians participating in SW19 never really leave the war.

On Wednesday, Angelina Kalinina will face Lesya Tsurenko in the second round match of the All-Ukrainian tournament, which they hope will draw attention to their country’s ongoing plight.

Since Russia launched a war in Ukraine in February, millions of refugees fled from Ukraine to neighboring countries, and for Kalinina her family is among the internally displaced persons.
On Monday, she confirmed to reporters that her parents’ house in suburb of Kyiv Irpen were bombed, saying “they are alive, they are safe” but “live on sacks and pray every day”.

“There are huge holes in the house, just huge holes,” she said, before revealing that the family now lives with her and her husband.

“This is a very small apartment for my family because my mom, dad, brother have pets.

“They are so happy and we are grateful … that they have somewhere to move from the city of Irpin, because Irpin is completely bombed out.”

“I help my grandparents a lot, who are now in the occupied territory,” she added.

“They can’t leave. So in the neighborhood like Russian soldiers with all their military things.

After Kalinina defeated Anna Bondar 4–6 6–2 6–4 in the first round, she received £78,000 (US$96,000) to help her family. A victory in the second round will bring in a total of £120,000 ($147,000).

“I understand that it is difficult to concentrate, but it is important for me whether I win or lose,” said Kalinina.

“If you go further, you will make more money. Then I can help, and I help in any way I can, and not only to my family. So that’s important to me.”

“We’re still at war and we need your help”

Her opponent on Wednesday, Tsurenko, was working with a psychologist to deal with the trauma of the war.

While Tsurenko’s mother continues to live in southern Ukraine, her sister now lives next to her in Italy, having survived three months of war in Ukraine.

“I don’t feel well,” she told reporters. “I am very worried, especially because I know that they are trying to take away one object, which is 100 meters from my house, from the house where I live.

“When the war started, I begin to feel this tension inside me… This feeling, this tension will be removed only when the war is over. I can’t do anything about it.”

In previous Grand Slams this year, Tsurenko has drawn with eventual first-round champion Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open and Iga Swiatek at the French Open.

Tsurenko reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 US Open.

However, at Wimbledon, Tsurenko got a better opponent in the first round and sent Britain’s Jody Berridge to a 6-2 6-2 win.

Like Kalinina, her motivation to keep playing tennis comes from using her platform to help her country.

“I think that with all the athletes who can take part in competitions, as well as with all the singers who go to Poland, to Germany, and with all the concerts, the part when Ukrainians can just go and remind the whole world that we here, we are still at war and we need your help,” she said.

“This is the main thing I would like us to get a lot of heavy weapons. We just want to remind [people] that Ukraine is in trouble and we need help.”

On the same day that Tsurenko played her first match at Wimbledon, the war once again spilled over the front lines when a Russian air strike struck Shopping center in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, killing at least 18 people.

The tennis player said that the most difficult thing for her was that she knew the people on the front lines.

“One guy was taken by the Russians, so we don’t know what is happening to him,” she said.

“We know he is alive. Two more guys are fighting there now, and several people have already died because of the war.”

On Monday, the two players did not decide how to honor their home country during the match.

“It’s great that two meet in the second round, which means that there will be one Ukrainian in the third round,” she continued.

Tsurenko said that, if allowed, she would put a Ukrainian ribbon on her uniform.

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