Thursday, February 9

Ukrainian tennis star pledges to donate prize money to her country’s army

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(Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina defeated Russia’s Anastasia Potapova at the Monterrey Open on Tuesday, pledging afterward to donate her prize money to the Ukrainian army.

After her win at the opening-round match in Monterrey, Mexico, Svitolina put her hand on her heart and waved to the crowd.

“I was on a mission for my country,” Svitolina said in an on-court interview of her performance, which drew a roar from the crowd.

She added that this was “a very special match for me and moment here … I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here.”

Svitolina, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, wore blue and yellow — the colors of the Ukrainian flag — on the court.

She had earlier refused to play Russian athletes. On Monday, she wrote in a social media post that she would not play any Russian or Belarusian players, and would forego today’s match unless tennis organizations took action.

On Tuesday, the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation released a joint statement announcing players from Russia and Belarus would be allowed to continue competing — but only as neutral athletes, instead of under the flag of either country.

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