July 6, 2022

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Ukrainian tennis player Lesia Tsurenko regrets the lack of support for her country in her sport

Ukrainian tennis player Lesia Tsurenko regrets the lack of support for her country in her sport

PARIS – Words like ‘invasion’, ‘politics’, ‘ban’ and ‘boycott’ are suddenly part of Daily Discourse in Tennisas in many segments of society, really, and a Ukrainian professional player Lesia Tsurenko These are not abstract concepts.

Her country is under attack from Russia. She is constantly weighed down.

Taking court to try to do her job, to try to swing a better woman across the net any day, is really the least of her worries. After losing to No. 1 Iga Sweatk 6-2, 6-0 on Monday at The first round of the French OpenTsurenko described what she found as troubling as anything else: the few colleagues who spoke out about the Russian invasion or called her to express sympathy or even discuss what was happening in Ukraine.

Tsurenko said: “For me, personally, it is difficult to be here, just because I do not speak many words about supporting my country. It is difficult only to be with people who seem to not understand it is only difficult … I am Ukrainian, and there is a war in my country “And it’s tough. I think five guys talked to me. Maybe four or five. Maybe a few other coaches. … But what can I do?”

Tsurenko, who is 33 years old, is from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. She ranked 119, and her best Grand Slam showing was the quarterfinals at the 2018 US Open.

after looking Returning home after the invasion that began in late February – “And he somehow tried to help there; I don’t know in any way, but only somehow,” she said – Tsurenko decided to go on.

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“It’s not easy being here,” Tsurenko said. “I don’t feel like I care too much. So I try to find that balance between ‘go to the court and don’t care’ versus ‘try to care.’ In some cases, it helps. Like, I don’t really stress myself. I just go and play. But in In some ways I just feel like, “Okay, whatever. I win or I lose, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.”

Now unable to go home between tournaments, she said she joined her compatriot Marta Kostyuk At a tennis academy in Italy before coming to France.

They are two of the four women from Ukraine who were in the singles arena at the French Open; There were no men. A total of 18 players from Russia or Belarus – which helped in the conquest – participated in the men’s and women’s lottery; They were not recognized by their nationalities by the tournament organizers.

While the International Tennis Federation banned Russia and Belarus from participating in the Billie Jean King and Davis Cup competitions, and some other sports, such as soccer, banned those countries from their events, Tsurenko noted that there was only one tennis tournament that had taken a stand: All England Club players from Russia and Belarus from competition at Wimbledon, which begins on June 27.

In response, the WTA Women’s Tour and the ATP Men’s Tour issued a reprimand, saying they would not award ranking points at Wimbledon.

“I don’t know if I could ask the players to pay more attention, but I would like to see that from the players, from the WTA, from the ATP,” Tsurenko said. “I would like the top players to support more and show a greater understanding of what’s really going on.”

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In Paris, players tended to avoid thinking about whether the All England Club or the Tours were on the right.

“I don’t have a clear opinion… I understand both sides,” 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal He said after winning on Monday.

Naomi Osaka After losing in the first round, she said she was “more inclined towards not playing” at the All England Club this year. Her explanation made no reference to Ukraine, but instead was: “I feel like if I play Wimbledon without points, it’s more like a show.”

Tsurenko needed to win three times in qualifying only to reach the main class at Roland Garros. Thanks to the draw, her reward was a match against Swiatek, the 2020 champion in Paris, whose victory on Monday extended her current winning streak to 29 matches.

Swiatek wore a blue and yellow ribbon – the colors of the flag of Ukraine – affixed to her white hat, a sign of solidarity she showed several weeks ago. She is from Poland, the country that borders Ukraine and has received millions of refugees.

At her press conference, 20-year-old Swiatek carefully avoided making a strong statement, and admitted it.

“Well, frankly, I’ve been trying to avoid saying what I think clearly, because…every solution is going to be wrong for some people….sports have been used in politics, and we’re kind of public figures, and we have some influence on people. It would be great if The people who make the decisions make decisions that will stop Russian aggression.”

“I feel like I have this responsibility, but on the other hand, I don’t have a lot of life experience and I’m aware of that,” she added. “Yes, when I’m ready to say more, I will.”

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In the meantime, Tsurenko was left hoping to hear more.

“I want people to understand that war is horrible and there is nothing worse in this world than war,” she said. “I think when you’re not in your country, you don’t really understand how terrible that is.”