Ukraine's Elina Svitolina refuses to face Russian opponent in Monterrey
- Elina Svitolina said on Monday that she would not play against Russia's Anastasia Potapova at the Mexican tournament
- This was as Russian military assault on Ukraine entered its fifth day
- She also vowed to donate her prize money from the WTA tournaments to the nation's military
Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina said on Monday that she would not play against Russia's Anastasia Potapova at the Mexican tournament unless tennis' governing bodies follow the International Olympic Committee's lead and insist that players from Russia and Belarus are only identified as "neutral athletes."
"We Ukrainian players requested to ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems. Accordingly, I want to announce that I will not play tomorrow in Monterrey, nor any other match against Russian or Belarusian tennis players until our organizations take this necessary decision," the 27-year-old said in a statement.
"I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland," she added.
In a letter on Sunday, the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist had written that she was safe but heartbroken for her close ones and the entire country of Ukraine.
"Letter to my Motherland. I'm currently far away from You, out of sight from my loved ones, far from my people, but my heart has never felt so warm and filled of Your soul. It is difficult to express how special You are. To me You are strong, beautiful and unique. You gave me everything and I cheerish every piece of You: your culture, your education, your lands, your seas, your cities, your people," she wrote.
"My people, every day I fear for you. I'm devastated, my eyes won't stop crying, my heart won't stop bleeding, But I'm so proud. See our people, out mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, our children, they are so brave and strong, fighting to defend You. They are heroes."
She also vowed to donate her prize money from the WTA tournaments to the nation's military and rescue efforts.