Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina, a native of Odessa, is “very distressed” by her family who stayed there, even more so in recent days.
Tired physically and mentally, she had decided to take a break at the end of March, and will not take part in Roland-Garros (from May 22 to June 5), she also explained in an interview with AFP on the sidelines of Global Sports. Week in Paris.
QUESTION: How have you felt since announcing your break in late March?
ANSWER: “I try to keep fit. I take my time, I do a lot for my foundation (children’s foundation and tennis), I travel a lot to raise funds. Currently, my focus is on my family and my foundation. But it is a very hard time right now for my hometown Odessa, the last few days it is very difficult to see the news with all the bombing and missiles.Half my family is in Ukraine, my parents were lucky of being able to leave but the other one is there, and they have been hiding in the basement for two days. I try to keep in touch with them to see how they are doing. “
Q: How do you live with that?
A: “It’s mentally exhausting to see all these terrible things happen to people, and not knowing what will happen tomorrow or in an hour is very scary. For Ukrainians living abroad, you don’t understand, you don’t really know. “It’s happening and you’re trying to imagine, and that’s not good either. It’s a constant concern.”
Q: Do you have contact with your tennis teammates who took up arms?
A: “Yes, I have spoken to (Sergiy) Stakhovsky and (Alexandr) Dolgopolov who are in Ukraine, weapons in hand, and also athletes who come from other sports. It takes a lot of courage to do that. I am very proud to get to know them and keep in touch with them to find out how they are and what the situation is. “
Q: Did it occur to you to go and fight for your country?
A “Yes, of course it went through my head. But right now what’s important is my base and helping kids keep their dreams of playing and playing tennis. For now, that’s my mission and I’m trying to do – the best possible “.
Q: Do you still have the same position regarding the ban on Russian Wimbledon players and do you have contact with them?
A: “I talked to the Wimbledon organizers. For me, they made the right decision. It’s not easy to talk to them (the Russian players). We see each other at tournaments every week and they don’t. Take a stand. It’s very sad”
Q: Is your decision to + pause + only related to the Ukrainian war?
A: “There are many things. For the last two months, things have not been easy for me, and I am trying to find peace within myself, it has been difficult. But now I spend more time with my family, with my family. “I hope to be able to return to Ukraine one day. My family has always been a priority for me. For me, the pandemic and the war have made a big difference in my life.” ‘.
Q: Won’t you play Roland Garros at the end of the month?
A: “Unfortunately not this year. I will miss him”
Q: Is tennis a particularly heavy sport for mental health?
A: “It’s an extremely difficult sport. It’s one of those where the season is longer. You have to be in shape from January to November. It takes a lot of energy, strength. You have ups and downs and your mind. It’s all challenged. time, he plays. Tennis is really hard. A lot of players have a hard time and they come back stronger. ”
Q: Is it beneficial to talk about it publicly?
A: “Everyone has their own way. Some people prefer to talk about it publicly, others prefer to share it more with their family, talk to their coaches, some with their psychologist. I prefer to keep it to myself. “I talk to my team, my psychologist. That’s how it works for me. I’ve been working with a psychologist for a few years now and she helps me a lot. In short, there’s no right or wrong way. But talking about mental health allows people not to feel lonely and talk about difficult times. “
Interview with Déborah Claude