Having declared initially she would not play her opening match against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova at the Monterrey Open, Ukranian Elina Svitolina changed her mind after the tennis authorities decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing under the name and flag of their countries.
Svitolina played in the yellow and blue colours of her homeland and beat Potapova 6-2, 6-1 claiming she could do more for her country by playing than boycotting the match.
The International Tennis Federation, ATP and WTA barred competitors from those countries using any national symbols, flags or anthems.
“Today it was a very special match for me,” the 27-year-old Svitolina said. “I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I´m playing tennis here.
“I was focused. I was on a mission for my country,” she said. “From the beginning, it was important to be ready for anything that comes my way.”
She added “I do not blame any of the Russian athletes, they are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland.
Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarussians who bravely stated their position against the war”
The No. 3 seed who won the 2020 Monterrey Open also said that all of her prize money will be going towards the Ukrainian army. The Monterrey Open offers US$31,000 in prize money for the winner.