Elina Svitolina made a comeback to defeat Storm Hunter at the French Open, only 24 hours after witnessing her husband Gaël Monfils’ impressive victory over Sebastián Báez.
Svitolina lost the initial set to her opponent from Australia, with a score of 6-2. However, she made a strong comeback, winning the next two sets 3-6 and 1-6, ultimately securing the victory in the second round.
Monfils initially lost the first set against Báez, but he persevered and ultimately emerged victorious in five sets with a score of 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5. The intense match lasted three hours and 47 minutes and was played in front of a lively home audience.
Svitolina’s preparation for Monfils’ game, which went the full distance, was a bit different from her usual routine. However, this did not affect her performance.
“I viewed the entire game and stayed up until midnight when it ended before heading straight to bed,” the Ukrainian stated. “I actually slept well, getting a solid seven hours of rest, which is impressive for a grand slam event.”
“It provided me with the motivation to return today. He was there for me, making a significant effort to come and show support on a difficult day like today. This really motivated me to persevere, never give up, and give my all in every point, putting in 100% effort out on the court,” Svitolina expressed.
On July 16, 2021, the couple tied the knot and had a daughter named Skaï Monfils in October 2022. Skaï is currently attending the French Open and Monfils dedicated his victory to her. This is also the first tournament that both parents have participated in since Monfils’ previous challenges with injuries.
Svitolina expressed her excitement after winning the first tournament where both she and Skaï participated together in Paris. She also mentioned that having Skaï with them made the experience even more special.
“We are currently having a great time both on and off the court, maintaining our focus and striving to play at our best.”
“It is crucial to have a dedicated team for Skaï so that we can fully focus on tennis. This is especially important during a major event where there is a lot of pressure and distractions. Having peace of mind about our child allows us to give our full attention to the game.”
Besides being a parent and participating in a major tennis tournament, Svitolina also deals with a constant feeling of burden due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“The emotions of anger, sadness, and heartache overwhelm me when I see everything that is happening. I regularly check a few Telegram channels for updates on my hometown of Odessa and the entire country of Ukraine. The news they share includes updates on alarms, missile strikes, and the impact of our Ukrainian Army and Air Force,” expressed the 28-year-old.
“I experience a mix of negative emotions during these moments. They include anger, sadness, and a heavy feeling. This weight is constantly present in my life and the lives of all Ukrainians. It’s impossible to escape from it, as we’ve been dealing with it for the past year and a half.”
The player ranked 192nd globally also mentioned how she draws inspiration from the war to drive her success in tennis.
“When I step onto the court, I am reminded of the fighting spirit that all Ukrainians possess. I am inspired by their determination to fight for their values and freedom in Ukraine. As a Ukrainian, I also feel like I am fighting my own battle here on the court,” Svitolina expressed.
“I am incapable of feeling sadness. I cannot allow myself to become distracted. I am certain that I will fail if I do. I recall the time when the war began, and I was in Monterrey, Mexico. I felt overwhelming sadness and nearly cried when I arrived at the court. There was a heavy weight on my shoulders.”
“I made a decision to give my all every time I step onto the court, with the realization that I represent my country. With my flag by my name, I am determined to fight for my country every single time I play.”
Svitolina is currently waiting to find out who her opponent will be in the third round at Roland-Garros, while Monfils is getting ready to play against Holger Rune in the second round.