Lesia Tsurenko and Anhelina Kalinina played out an all-Ukrainian clash at Wimbledon on Wednesday amid the devastating scenes playing out in their homeland.
Tsurenko beat her compatriot 3-6 6-4 6-3 to set up a clash with Jule Niemeier following the German's upset of second seed Anett Kontaveit.
But her thoughts were firmly with Ukraine after the match and the fact that very few Russian or Belarusian players had approached her to condemn the war.
Tsurenko and Kalininawere were cheered on by flag-waving supporters at the All England Club, while Tsurenko sported a blue and yellow ribbon on her shirt.
Speaking after the match, Tsurenko expressed her disappointment over the lack of vocal opposition from Russian and Belarusian athletes, who are banned from playing at the All England Club due to the war.
"I would be the first one to say that, no, you should not ban them," she stated.
"But I have heard only from one Belarusian player and from one Russian player, who talked to me personally and told me: ‘I’m against the war.’
"I did not hear anything from any other player. So for me, the silence means … I mean, it's not good when … I don’t know. I thought I had a lot of friends on tour, especially from Russians and Belarusians.
"It’s just a step. [But] it's a good step to show that that's what we all have to do. I am Ukrainian. There is no other opinion in my head."
Lesia Tsurenko feels 'guilty' about playing Wimbledon
The World No.101 has already pledged to donate 10 per cent of her prize money from Wimbledon to the humanitarian efforts taking place in Ukraine.
However she admitted to feeling guilty that she was able to play tennis while her compatriots are struggling at home.
“It’s just horrible what is going on in Ukraine,” the 33-year-old said.
“I feel terrible and I feel very guilty. I feel that it seems like there is nothing I can do, so the only thing is continue playing and – as I said – I donate 10 per cent of my prize money.
“The horrible things that are going on in Ukraine in the last week, terrorist act, a lot of civilians dead and especially it’s very painful for me to see that Russian propaganda is just saying that, for example, that shopping mall in Kremenchuk was not working. That’s a lie because my fitness coach he’s from that city.
“His mother-in-law, she’s working in this shopping centre and she was lucky that she had a day off.”
The Ukrainian players was granted special permission to wear the blue and yellow ribbon by Wimbledon officials, who normally impose a strict all-white dress code.
“I asked (All England Club) and the answer was yes, we can wear it,” she revealed.
“It was a big court. Two Ukrainians, a lot of people were watching us, and we felt amazing support, for sure.
“Today, on the way from hotel to the club, we got a driver. She took two people from Ukraine in her house. So I think it’s amazing when help Ukrainians so much.
“Any support that you give to Ukrainians is amazing.
“If there is something that every person in this world can do, I think it’s good if they do it. If they think that to donate 10 dollars means nothing, no, it’s not true. It means a lot.
“In the city, in the main city of my region, Mykolaiv region, they don’t have water for few months already, so if you think that 10 dollars is nothing, is 10 bottles of water for these people.”
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