London | Russia’s invasion impacts tennis in more ways than one

The impact of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has wide-reaching implications for tennis, as well as the world as a whole.

I would like to ask the entire tennis community to speak out against the war on their social media! I ask everyone to support Ukraine in this difficult time. It’s just unacceptable that people in my country die because of political ambitions of Russian dictator! Lesia Tsurenko

16 women and 36 men from Ukraine are currently listed on the WTA and ATP Rankings, and they are either travelling to compete in tournaments, or at home. Either way they are fearful of the outcome of events in their homeland.

There are also hundreds of women and men from Russia on both tours who, no doubt, are feeling the heat of President Putin’s unprecedented military actions with mixed feelings.

The seriousness of the situation in Ukraine is epitomised by Sergiy Stakhovsky, who tearfully revealed on Twitter that he is going back to his country to join the army and fight against the Russian invasion, having signed up for the reserves last week.

Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska was in her home town of Odessa when the war started, and the southern city was invaded.

She took to Instagram to update her fans on how her family is holding up, posting a heart-breaking image with her younger sister on Friday.

The 21-year-old captioned the photo: “After spending two nights in the underground parking, my parents made a decision at any cost to send me and my little sister out of Ukraine! Mom, Dad, we love you very much, take care of yourself!!! I love you my country! Ukrainians take care of your lives…”

The post also included 4 videos, the first of her saying good-bye to her family, the second showing them heading to the boat, the third of her on board, and the last showing her family on the quayside waving them good-bye.

The update came a day after Yastremska posted a picture of the Ukrainian flag with a caption stating she was staying home for the time being.

On Saturday, Yastremska posted on Twitter: “Tired, but my sister and I are safe! Thank you France❤️🥺  Ukraine stay strong💙💛🇺🇦🙏🏼😓 We miss you home, mother and dad 🥺🥺🥺❤️”


21-year old Dayana Yastremska and her younger sister made it out of Odessa by boat to France

Twitter

Another Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina, posted on Instagram: “My heart is bleeding… Another sleepless and terrifying night for Ukrainian people.. PLEASE HELP US TO STOP THE WAR.

The Ukrainian No 1 then opened up about the ongoing conflict in her country, posting: “This is a terrible nightmare… I am praying every single minute for my people and peace” 🇺🇦

Earlier, former World No 1 Martina Navratilova tweeted: “I cannot imagine how terrified Elina Svitolina must be these days… fingers crossed for Ukraine!!!”

The 27-year old, ranked No 15 in the world, who was not in Ukraine but played in Dubai last week, lost her opening round match in Doha this week, clearly concerned for her family and friends back home.

Meanwhile, the womenstennisblog posted: “Players from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will all suffer consequences of this war. Let’s see how this conflict will affect tennis and careers of tennis players.

“Sports and politics should not be interconnected, but the reality is that politics shape all aspects of our lives.

“Professional athletes are way too often affected by happenings in the world that seemingly have nothing to do with them.

“Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, let’s try to explain what we expect to happen to tennis and athletes coming from the region.

“We haven’t even fully overcome the pandemic and a new crisis is already torturing the world…”

Lesia Tsurenko has been urging people to support her country: “I would like to ask the entire tennis community to speak out against the war on their social media!

“I ask everyone to support Ukraine in this difficult time. It’s just unacceptable that people in my country die because of political ambitions of Russian dictator!”


Russia's Andrey Rublev made a potent statement after his match in Dubai

Twitter

General mobilisation is in force in Ukraine and the country has banned all male citizens ages 18-60 from leaving the country, which means that Ukrainian ATP players will have to put their careers on hold for some time.

Tournaments scheduled to take place in the countries affected by the war are expected to be replaced by events in other locations, which is nothing new since calendar changes have become normal during the coronavirus pandemic.

The WTA has just released an updated calendar for the next nine weeks of 2022 but has yet to make a decision regarding the Kremlin Cup, scheduled to take place in Moscow in October.

The ITF, however, has already taken action, stating on Twitter in reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine: “Our first and highest priority is to protect the safety of tennis players and all those travelling to and participating at ITF events.

“Due to heightened security concerns, the ITF has postponed the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 event due to take place in Ukraine this April and has cancelled all ITF events taking place in Russia indefinitely.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and review on an ongoing basis. Any further course of action will be decided based on a thorough risk assessment and the advice we receive from security experts and the relevant authorities.”

Calls for the WTA and ATP to follow suit and cancel all events in Russia are numerous on social media.

Elsewhere, two Top 10 Russians, including ATP World No 1 Daniil Medvedev, spoke up about their country’s invasion of Ukraine this week.

Speaking on Thursday in Acapulco, Medvedev, who won the US Open last year, addressed the situation in his home country after winning his match in Mexico, saying he is ‘all for peace’.

“In this moment, you understand that tennis sometimes is not that important,” he said. “By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world.

“We play in so many different countries. I’ve been in so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news.”

On Friday, Andrey Rublev also advocated for peace, writing ‘No war please’ on a camera lens after his win in Dubai.

“In these moments you realise that my match is not important,” said Rublev, the World No 7, the day before. “It’s not about my match, how it affects me because what’s happening is much more terrible.

“You realise how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what and to be united…. We should take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.”

Rafael Nadal said in a post match interview in Mexico: “I can’t comment on it as a tennis player, I can only comment as a citizen of this world. It’s devastating.”

Now, as a result of its military invasion, Russia is facing sanctions from countries across the world, which will certainly impact Russian tennis players, in terms of both their travel possibilities and income potential, while players from Belarus are likely to be in a similar position.

How many Ukrainians can weather the storm of invasion remains to be seen.




Previous

Next

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.