Elina Svitolina wears black ribbon at Wimbledon after Kyiv hospital attack

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina has worn a black ribbon during a match at Wimbledon in solidarity with the victims of the Russian bombing of a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Wimbledon organisers made a rare exception to relax its strict all-white rules for Svitolina’s fourth-round match against Wang Xinyu on Monday.

Svitolina fought back tears on the court after winning 6-2 6-1. She said: “It was a good performance from my side today. It’s a very difficult day today for Ukrainian people.

“It was not easy to focus today on the match. Since the morning it’s very difficult to read the news. Just to go on the court is extremely tough. I’m happy I could play today and get a win.”

The tournament has a strict dress code that states: “Competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court surround. White does not include off-white or cream.”

Svitolina confirmed that Wimbledon organisers gave her permission to wear the ribbon. “I feel like it would be understandable after such a big attack for my country,” she said at a press conference after her win.

On Monday, Ukraine was hit by a Russian missile barrage that authorities said killed at least 29 people across the country. Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital was among the buildings hit. Ihor Klymenko, the interior minister, confirmed five people had been killed and at least four more had been injured in the strike on the hospital.

Svitolina said: “It’s an incredibly sad day today for all Ukrainians. It was really difficult for me to really be here in a way and do anything. I just wanted to be in my room, just be there with my emotions, with everything.”

Svitolina, who is ranked 21 in the world, said tennis was her way of raising awareness. She said: “I have to put my head down and show up and do my best, my very best. Every Ukrainian is using their own way to raise awareness, to raise money, to help in every possible way they can.”

The player still has family in Ukraine who she has kept in close contact with during the conflict. “It’s nice to hear their voices. Of course, sad voices, but in a way it still warms my heart when I speak with them,” Svitolina said.

Wimbledon has relaxed its strict dress code in the past. In 2022, tournament organisers allowed Poland’s Iga Świątek, who is ranked No 1 in the world, to wear a blue and yellow ribbon on her cap in a sign of unity with Ukraine.

Source: theguardian.com

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