Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina displayed her patriotism after winning her first WTA title since becoming a mother at the 2023 Strasbourg Open.
Svitolina pledged to donate her prize money of $34,228 to help the kids in Ukraine as her home country fights a war with Russia. In her post-match interview, Svitolina thanked France, where the tournament was held, for aiding Ukraine and accepting Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the war.
The 28-year-old ended her remarks with the hope of Ukraine winning the war. Svitolina's comments drew widespread applause from the crowd.
"I would like to share this energy with Ukraine, with my homeland. I will be donating all my prize money from this tournament. Is going to go to the kids of Ukraine, (which is) much needed in this tough moment," Svitolina said.
"I would like to thank France for doing unbelievable job welcoming Ukrainians and doing everything possible for them to feel like it their second home So thank you so much for everything that you do for us, and together we gonna see the light and win the war. Merci. Slava Ukraini," she added.
Svitolina has been at the forefront of raising her voice for Ukraine's cause amid the war. As the most visible tennis player from her country, Svitolina has often pleaded with the WTA and ATP to take tough stances against Russia and Ukraine. She has also regularly donated her prize money from playing professional tennis to help the Ukrainian army.
Elina Svitolina defeated Russia's Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-3 to win her 17th title on the WTA tour and second in Strasbourg. The victory is even more significant as it was the Ukrainian's first title since giving birth to her and Gael Monfils' son Skai in October 2022. The win has helped Svitolina gain 280 points, jump 317 spots in the WTA live rankings and become World No. 191.
Elina Svitolina enters the 2023 French Open on a high note
Before arriving in Strasbourg, Elina Svitolina's comeback to tennis was not going as planned. She had bowed out of the Italian Open, the Madrid Open, and the Charleston Open in the first round. These results weren't surprising, as Svitolina was returning to the WTA tour after a year-long hiatus.
However, a title win on the tour will surely boost her confidence as she prepares to play at the 2023 French Open.
Svitolina, who entered the main draw via protected ranking, will be up against last year's semi-finalist and No. 26 seed Martina Trevisan in the first-round match on Monday, May 29. While fatigue may play a role in her return to Grand Slam tennis, a buoyed Svitolina may just spring a surprise in Paris.
The Ukrainian is a three-time quarterfinalist at the French Open (2015, 2017, 2020). In 2020, Svitolina was seeded No. 3 and was defeated by Argentina's Nadia Podoroska in the quarterfinal, 2-6, 4-6. Her last campaign at the French Open was in 2021, where she was the No. 5 seed and lost to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova 3-6, 2-6, in the third round.