Iga Swiatek cemented her position as one of the nicest players on tour by organizing a charity tennis match on Saturday in her native Poland to collect money for kids and teenagers affected by the conflict in Ukraine. The Pole was undeniably successful in her efforts, as over 10,000 people attended the match at Krakow's Tauron Arena.
Former World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska, Polish junior player Martyn Pawelski, and former ATP World No. 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky participated in the event alongside Swiatek. Swiatek and Radwanska competed in a one-set singles exhibition while the quartet played a mixed doubles match.
The event kicked off with the mixed doubles match, with Radwanska being accompanied by Stakhovsky and Swiatek partnering up with Pawelski. The match ended 6-4 in favor of Swiatek and Pawelski.
Soon after, Iga Swiatek and Radwanska entered the arena for the day's big match. Radwanska shockingly defeated her opponent 6-4 to win the show set, following which the players received a standing ovation from the gathered fans.
The event included several exciting moments, including an extraordinary rally containing more than 30 shots between the mixed doubles duo. Despite being one game down to their opponents, Iga Swiatek and her partner were able to tie the match thanks to this incredible rally that captured everyone's heart.
Elina Svitolina also provided another touching moment during the game, albeit from the sidelines. Despite having just revealed her pregnancy, the former World No. 3 was seen signing autographs for her dedicated followers throughout the contest.
Fans couldn't get enough of her, as the highly popular Svitolina had to spend several rounds posing for photographs with her fans and patiently dishing out signatures to all those who asked for one.
At the end of the Swiatek-Radwanska battle, there was another extremely wonderful scene that delighted the crowd. The reigning French Open champion approached one of the cameras after the match drew to a close and scrawled a few things on the lens with a marker.
There is little doubt that Iga Swiatek and throngs of followers from around Poland would be happy to see Radwaska resume her career once more. It was exactly what the Pole wrote as well, scribbling "Aga, come back to the tour!" on the camera in a touching tribute to her accomplished compatriot.
Last but not least, and most importantly, the charity event brought in PLN 2 million (£422,000) in funds, which will be distributed to three organizations that have been crucial in providing aid to the most vulnerable since the start of the war in Ukraine: the Elina Svitolina foundation, United 24, and UNICEF Polska.
"This is a very important issue for me, never imagined that the war could be so close"- Iga Swiatek
After the event's successful conclusion, Iga Swiatek, who was originally supposed to play against Elina Svitolina in the singles encounter, voiced her opinions on the war. Recalling how many players first wore ribbons in the colors of Ukraine but eventually ceased doing so, Swiatek declared that she would keep hers on until the situation is resolved as a reminder for everyone across the globe.
"This is a very important issue for me, I never imagined that the war could be so close," Iga Swiatek said. "I was born at a time when our part of Europe was quite peaceful. I noticed that at first interest in what was happening in Ukraine appeared in the tennis world, many players put on ribbons in the colours of this country."
"But with time it changed, the ribbons disappeared after two or three matches. My ribbon will remain. Many players do not want to comment on the war, I respect that, because everyone does as they see fit," she added.
Agnieszka Radwanska, who competed in her first match following her retirement from the sport in 2018, added her views on the matter as well. Revealing that she only participated in the match for a great cause and not to advance her own career, Radwanska hoped the money they collected would be put to good use.
"It was a return to tennis for me after a few years," Radwanska said. "I would not have imagined that I would play a match with the best player in the world at home, in Krakow. But I did it only for this great initiative, not for my own career."
"When I received a call from Iga Swiatek with the proposal there was no way I could refuse. Such events are probably the best way to help children from Ukraine who are left with nothing. We can hope that it will be a donation that will help them return to a normal life," she added.
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