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World’s best tennis player urges colleagues to support Ukraine

Iga Swiatek
The Polish tennis star Iga Świątek after her third triumph at the French Open. Credit: Iga Świątek via Twitter.
World’s best tennis player urges colleagues to support Ukraine

Iga Świątek, the 22-year-old Polish tennis star, and the world’s number one tennis player according to the Women’s Tennis Association rating, expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and urged colleagues to support Ukraine during the press conference after her triumph at the French Open at Roland Garros, Paris.

Iga Świątek called on other players to unite against the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and not shy away from more active support for Ukraine.

“My support goes to all Ukrainians because I know their situation is not easy. If I were in their shoes, I honestly wouldn’t know if I could compete,” Iga Świątek said after winning the final match of the classic clay court in Paris against Karolina Muchova from the Czech Republic on Saturday, 10 June.

The Polish tennis star stressed that the tennis community should unite efforts to “do everything to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Iga Świątek has been vocal about supporting Ukraine in the ongoing war since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022. During her matches, Świątek has also been wearing a blue-and-yellow ribbon affixed to her baseball cap as a show of solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people that suffer from violence and destruction at the hands of the invading Russian forces.

Iga Świątek announced that she would continue wearing the blue-and-yellow ribbon in solidarity with Ukraine until the war ends.

“I know that many players wore ribbons at the beginning of the war when all the fuss was a little louder. Then some players took them off, which is pretty weird because the war is still ongoing. Ukrainians are still suffering. I’m going to wear it until the situation gets better. As for the media, this is how they work – they made a lot of fuss [about the war] at the beginning and then forgot about it,” Iga Świątek said.

Iga Świątek is disappointed that the current situation in the tennis community is more complicated than it was at the beginning of the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. She noted that stricter measures were implemented against athletes, including tennis players from Russia and Belarus last year, but now they are being relaxed.

“Right now, the situation is pretty complicated. At first, they were banned in other sports, not in tennis. Then it changed a little bit. They’re starting to allow Russian and Belarusian players back, which is pretty confusing because nothing has changed in Ukraine. It is heartbreaking,” Iga Świątek said before her final match at the French Open on Saturday.

Iga Świątek expressed hope that there could be less tension if the Women’s Tennis Association had acted more decisively concerning Europe’s most devastating war since the end of World War II.

Ukrainian tennis players Marta Kostyuk and Elina Svitolina lost their games at the French Open to the number two-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. Both Ukrainians refused to shake hands with the Belarusian, who has often voiced support for the Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who is the closest ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

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