Wimbledon, England. It’s hard to focus on tennis when the family home in Ukraine is being bombed.
Angelina Kalinina and Lesya Tsurenko did just that at Wimbledon, winning their opening Grand Slam matches on grass to set up a second round meeting between them.
“Thank God they are alive, they are safe,” Kalinina said of her family, explaining that their house was destroyed during a Russian attack during the war. “But they live, like many other Ukrainians, (out of their) bags, so you never know what will happen tomorrow, because everything looks quiet sometimes. And then yesterday there were two missiles in Kyiv, in the center.”
Kalinina with number 29 advanced to the second round, beating Anna Bondar with a score of 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Tsurenko defeated British Jody Burrage, who took the joker card, with a score of 6-2, 6-3.
“I don’t feel well,” said Tsurenko, who is concerned that her home in the capital is not far from the site that was attacked. “Therefore, every time my district, my district of the city where I live, is bombed … I think when the war started, I begin to feel this tension inside myself, and I think that even if I work with a psychologist every day and I try , I don’t know, anyway, I try to avoid these emotions, it’s impossible.”
Both players will not have to face opponents from Russia or Belarus, as athletes from those countries are banned from participating in Wimbledon this year. As a result of this decision, no ranking points will be awarded to players during the tournament.
“I am not very happy with this decision,” Tsurenko said, although she added that she agreed with the ban. “I think that the sanctions and all the athletes who are suspended from sports from Russia and Belarus, there is a big reason for this … I think these decisions are right, and the sanctions are right.”
Kalinina said that it is unfair to consider the issue of rating points when it comes to war.
“We cannot compare WTA points, we cannot compare this ban of these players with what is happening in Ukraine now,” Kalinina said. “We cannot compare what they lack now, and how many millions of people have been killed, are still dying, and how many refugees have been brought in and survive, mothers with children, people without money, without a family, without jobs.
“They don’t have anything. They are like homeless people.”
At the French Open, Tsurenko lamented that many of her football comrades did not support Ukraine. But she and Kalinina get a lot of support from the crowd.
One of the two will advance to the third round and they plan to talk about what they can do in their match to bring even more recognition to their country.
“We’ll see,” Kalinina said. “We will discuss.”
Ukrainians think about war after victory in the first round of Wimbledon originally appeared on NBCSports.com