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Elina Svitolina lowered to tears a day after missile assault in Ukraine

  • The missile attack struck Ohmatdyt – the country’s biggest paediatrics facility
  • Svitolina emerged on court wearing a black ribbon to mourn the loss of life  
  • She left court in tears after she booked her place in Wimbledon quarter-finals 

Elina Svitolina spoke of the guilt she feels competing at Wimbledon against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine after defeating Wang Xinyu in straight sets to book her place in the Championships’ quarter-finals.

The 29-year-old sported a black ribbon pinned to her whites for her fourth-round match in commemoration of the lives lost to a Russian missile strike which targeted a children’s hospital in Kyiv on Monday morning.

Svitolina was visibly emotional and in tears after claiming the 6-2, 6-1 victory, stating that it had been ‘hard to focus’ on the match at hand. 

She later wrote that ‘Wimbledon has become black for me today’ on social media, describing stepping onto No 2 Court as ‘mentally beyond anything (she) had ever faced’.

‘It’s an incredibly sad day today for all Ukrainians,’ Svitolina said after the match. ‘It was really difficult for me to really be here, and do anything. I just wanted to be in my room, just (to) be there with my emotions, with everything.

Elina Svitolina broke down in tears following her latest win at Wimbledon on Monday afternoon

Elina Svitolina broke down in tears following her latest win at Wimbledon on Monday afternoon

The Ukrainian player wore a black ribbon of mourning follow air strikes overnight in Ukraine

The Ukrainian player wore a black ribbon of mourning follow air strikes overnight in Ukraine

A children's hospital in Kyiv was destroyed after one of the worst bombardments in months

A children’s hospital in Kyiv was destroyed after one of the worst bombardments in months

‘You know when you have these sad days where you don’t want to do anything – it was this kind of day for me.

When asked if she was capable of celebrating reaching the last eight at the tournament for the third time in light of the atrocities, Svitolina admitted it was difficult to feel elated.

‘Many Ukrainians will share this feeling with me,’ she added. ‘We feel guilt that we feel happy or that we feel good. Not only because I’m in the quarterfinal of the Grand Slam, but in everything, like you go on holiday, you feel guilty because you’re not in Ukraine.

‘Many people cannot leave the country. Many people are at the war. Many people are fighting, defending our front lines.

‘I think we’ve been living with this feeling for over two years. It’s nothing new. But it’s not a pleasant feeling to have.

Svitolina, who still has family living in Ukraine, has often used her platform as one of the country’s most successful players on the tour to draw attention to the war in Ukraine, and says she remains ‘motivated’ by the pressure that highly visible role brings.

Rescuers work at Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital that was damaged during a Russian missile strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine July 8, 2024

Rescuers work at Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital that was damaged during a Russian missile strikes, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine July 8, 2024

Svitolina admitted that it is hard for her to celebrate her successes due to events in Ukraine

But two years on from the invasion, Svitolina struggles with the decline in international attention on the conflict.

‘When it’s not something that close to your heart, you don’t really go into these details because it’s normal human thing to not watch the horrible things that are happening around the world,’ the world No 21 insisted.

‘I don’t think (non-Ukrainians) know much about what’s really happening.’

Svitolina will face Moscow-born Elena Rybakina in her quarter-final tie, but confirmed that she has no plans to snub her opponent’s handshake in protest.

‘She doesn’t want to represent her original country,’ Svitolina said of the former Wimbledon champion’s switched allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018. ‘So it works.’