California, TGO: It was just six months ago that Elina Svitolina was celebrating what she described as the “Best day of my life.”
On July 16 in Geneva Switzerland, the Ukrainian tennis star, who once ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, got married to fellow tennis star Gael Monfils of France. The sports power couple then took their celebration to Tokyo, where each represented their countries in the Summer Olympics, and Svitolina brought home a bronze medal.
These days, though, Svitolina is not celebrating. She is heartbroken and scared for her homeland and its citizens as they valiantly try to defend Ukraine following Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. And so, the 27-year-old Odessa native penned a love letter “to my Motherland” to share her thoughts and emotions.
“I am currently far away from You, out of sight from my loved ones, far from my people, but my heart has never felt so warm and filled of Your soul,” Svitolina’s letter began.
“You are strong, beautiful and unique. You gave me everything and I cherish every piece of You.
“My people, every day I fear for you. I am devastated, my eyes won’t stop crying, my heart won’t stop bleeding.
“But I am so proud.”
As she concluded her emotional letter, Svitolina, currently ranked 15th on the WTA Tour, pledged to redistribute the prize money of her next tournaments to support the Ukrainian army and humanitarian needs.
The 2019 Wimbledon and U.S. Open semifinalist is scheduled to play a WTA Tour event in Monterrey, Mexco this week followed by one of the biggest tournaments in the United States — the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California — beginning March 9.