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Tearful Svitolina wears black ribbon at Wimbledon after Ukraine hospital attack

Elina Svitolina, wearing a black ribbon in solemn tribute, emotionally reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday amidst tragic events unfolding in Kyiv, where a Russian missile attack resulted in the loss of 36 lives, including the devastation of a children’s hospital.

The Ukrainian tennis star, visibly moved, expressed her hope that her victory would provide a glimmer of positivity amid the grim aftermath of what has been described as a “barbaric” attack by the French foreign ministry. Svitolina’s poignant display, with the ribbon stark against her white playing shirt, came as she decisively defeated Wang Xinyu of China in straight sets.

“It’s an incredibly difficult day for all Ukrainians,” the 29-year-old Svitolina shared, tears flowing during a televised interview on court. She struggled to maintain composure amidst the emotional weight of the day’s news.

“It wasn’t easy to focus on the match today. Since this morning, it’s been incredibly challenging to follow the news and then step onto the court,” she continued. “But I was grateful to play today and achieve this win. It was a strong performance from my side, and I appreciate everyone’s support.”

The devastating attack, which claimed lives and caused significant destruction, fueled Svitolina’s resolve on the court. “I see my participation in Wimbledon as an opportunity to raise awareness and support for Ukraine,” she stated. “Every Ukrainian is contributing in their own way. For me, it’s through tennis.”

Reflecting on her upcoming match against Elena Rybakina, who now represents Kazakhstan after changing allegiance from Russia, Svitolina affirmed her stance on not shaking hands with Russian opponents while extending respect to Rybakina given her change of nationality.

Svitolina also candidly expressed the emotional turmoil she experiences due to her career’s global demands juxtaposed with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. “There’s a sense of guilt in feeling happiness, like reaching the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, while knowing the hardship people in Ukraine are enduring,” she admitted. “Many are unable to leave the country, and countless others are directly affected by the war.”

“We’ve been living with this reality for over two years now, and it’s a deeply unsettling feeling,” she added somberly.

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