Elina Svitolina, Dayana Yastremska, Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Sergiy Stakhovsky on Russia's invasion of Ukraine (2023)

Tennis players have called for peace, fled their home country, and said they will take up arms after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The world has been rocked by the decision of Russia president Vladimir Putin to attack neighbouring Ukraine last week.


There are currently 36 men and 16 women from Ukraine on the WTA and ATP rankings, along with hundreds of Russians, including new men's world No 1 Daniil Medvedev.

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Among the Ukrainians on the WTA Tour is Dayana Yastremska, who was in her hometown of Odessa when the war started.

World No. 128 Yastremska, who has won three WTA titles, said she has fled to France via Romania with her younger sister, seemingly leaving her parents in Ukraine.

“After spending two nights in the underground parking, my parents made a decision at any cost to send me and my little sister out of Ukraine!” she wrote on Instagram on Friday.

A day later she shared a post saying: “Tired, but my sister and I are safe. Thank you France. Ukraine stay strong. We miss you Home, Mum and Dad.”

Yastremska is playing singles and doubles at the Lyon Open this week.

(Video) Retired pro tennis player leaves his young family to fight Russia

World No. 15 Elina Svitolina, who is the top seed at the Monterrey Open, has told Eurosport that she is “heartbroken” over what is happening in her home country.

“Everyone is terrified, everyone is heartbroken,” she said.

“My family is there. Lots of my friends who didn't leave the country are there. They are fighting for their life, some of them are fighting for our country. It takes a lot of courage and it's unbelievable that some people actually took weapons in their hands and went to fight for our land.

“I have my parents there, I have my grandmother, I have my uncle, my aunt. I try to talk with them quite constantly because it's really important to keep the contact with them, how I can help them.

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“The most painful thing I would say is that I feel completely useless because I want to help them. I want to do something for them. Some of my friends are without electricity, without water, without food. They are really struggling.”

Svitolina has said she will donate her prize money from upcoming tournaments to the “Ukrainian Army and to humanitarian needs”.

Former Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky has said he would be willing to fight for his country.

Stakhovsky reached a singles ranking of world No. 31 and famously beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013.

“Of course I would fight, it's the only reason I'm trying to get back,” he told Sky News.

"I signed up for the reserves last week. I don't have military experience but I do have experience with a gun privately. My dad and brother are surgeons, they are stressed out, but I speak to them frequently - they sleep in the basement.”

(Video) Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina refuses to play Russian or Belarusian opponents | Eurosport Tennis

World No. 127 Lesia Tsurenko is urging people to support her home country.

“I would like to ask the entire tennis community to speak out against the war on their social media!” she wrote on Instagram.

“I ask everyone to support Ukraine in this difficult time. It’s just unacceptable that people in my country die because of political ambitions of Russian dictator!”

There have also been strong statements from new men’s world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev and fellow Russian Andrey Rublev.

The news of the invasion came on the same day it was confirmed that Medvedev would replace Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings.

"Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy," said Medvedev.

"By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries. It's just not easy to hear all this news. I'm all for peace."

World No. 7 Rublev wrote ‘No War Please’ on the camera after reaching the final in Dubai.

"In these moments you realise that my match is not important,” said Rublev, who won the Open 13 doubles title alongside Ukrainian Denys Molchanov earlier this month.

“It's not about my match [or] how it affects me because what's happening is much more terrible.

(Video) Stars Plea for Peace in Ukraine

"You realise how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what and to be united. We should take care of our Earth and of each other."

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova wrote: "I've been playing tennis since I was a kid. I have represented Russia all my life. This is my home and my country. But now I am in complete fear, as are my friends and family.

"But I am not afraid to clearly state my position. I am against war and violence. Personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence. This takes away the future not only from us, but also from our children.

"I am confused and do not know how to help in this situation. I'm just an athlete who plays tennis. I am not a politician, not a public figure, I have no experience in this. I can only publicly disagree with these decisions taken and openly talk about it. Stop the violence, stop the war."

Daria Saville, who was born in Moscow and represented Russia before becoming an Australian citizen, has said she plans to wear yellow and blue at the upcoming tournament in Indian Wells to show her support for Ukraine.

“Russia. Stop this war,” Saville tweeted alongside a heartbreak emoji.

“Silence in the current situation is equal to complicity. Putin, stop the war. Army, come home!”

Saville’s husband Luke, who is making his Davis Cup debut for Australia this week, commended his wife for speaking out.

“It’s terrible, what’s happening over there, of course. It’s close to my heart, as well,” he said.

“My mother-in-law and father-in-law are both over there in Moscow. Just speaking to [Daria] over the last few days, she’s just very worried. She’s concerned, and obviously that hits home with me.

“I want to see her happy, and playing well. It’s definitely been on her mind. She’s a little bit sad. I just hope they resolve it, basically, like everyone does.

“She’s going to try and speak up and be a voice, and hopefully a lot of other players do the same.”

(Video) Tennis During The WAR - Team UKRAINE

Rafael Nadal also shared his thoughts on the situation during his run to the Mexican Open title in Acapulco.

"I can give an opinion as a citizen," Nadal said. "I don´t want to talk about who is to blame, but for me it´s unbelievable that there are wars at this moment. I can´t comprehend it and I wish for it to end now, because at the end of the day I think it´s devastating and incomprehensible news."

Amanda Anisimova, who was born in America to Russian parents, tweeted: "#nohumanity. No words for what is happening.”

The ATP have announced the relocation of the St Petersburg Open in September to Kazakhstan capital Nur-Sultan, following more than 25 editions of the event.

The WTA have released a calendar for the next nine weeks of the season but that does not include the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in October. The ATP currently have the event on their calendar.

“Our first and highest priority is to protect the safety of tennis players and all those travelling to and participating at ITF events.

“Due to heightened security concerns, the ITF has postponed the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 event due to take place in Ukraine this April and has cancelled all ITF events taking place in Russia indefinitely.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and review on an ongoing basis. Any further course of action will be decided based on a thorough risk assessment and the advice we receive from security experts and the relevant authorities.”

(Video) World's oldest competitive tennis player faces Russian bombing in Ukraine

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1. Ukrainian tennis player swaps racket for rifle to defend Kyiv | AFP
(AFP News Agency)
2. Ukrainian-Russian tennis duo leaning on each as war unfolds | Rush Hour
3. What They Think | Russian and Belarussian Players on War in Ukraine and Sanctions From ATP/WTA/ITF
(Illya Marchenko)


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