Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Monday, 08 July 2024 19:23

Wimbledon star Svitolina in tears after children hospital attack in Ukraine.

By Jonathan Jurejko and Joe Rindl.

Elina Svitolina found it "extremely tough" to focus on competing at Wimbledon after Russian strikes killed 31 people and seriously damaged a children's hospital in her native Ukraine.

Svitolina, 29, broke down in tears during an on-court interview after she beat China's Wang Xinyu to reach the quarter-finals.

She played the match wearing a black ribbon on her white outfit, knowing there had been mass casualties from the assault on her homeland.

The 2023 Wimbledon semi-finalist is one of Ukraine's most prominent athletes and has spoken regularly about the impact of the war on her country.

After her 6-2 6-1 win, Svitolina said: "It was a good performance from my side and it's a very difficult day today for Ukrainian people."

Svitolina trailed off as she began to cry, with the Wimbledon crowd offering sympathetic support.

"It was not easy to focus on the match," Svitolina added.

"Since the morning it was very difficult to read the news and just to go on the court it's extremely tough.

"I'm happy I could play today and get a win.

At least 19 people were killed in Kyiv by the rare daytime attack, including two at the Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital - Ukraine's biggest paediatrics facility - which sustained major damage.

Svitolina, along with former Ukraine footballer Andriy Shevchenko and heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk, is an ambassador for United24, a fundraising organisation sent up by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Earlier this year, Svitolina said many Ukrainians felt people have lost interest in their ongoing battle to repel the Russian invasion.

Rybakina into last eight as Kalinskaya retires hurt

Elena Rybakina underlined why she is the new title favourite with a dominant performance against Anna Kalinskaya under the roof on Centre Court, before her opponent retired injured.

With 2022 champion Rybakina leading her fellow 25-year-old 6-3 3-0, Kalinskaya left the last-16 match in tears after she was unable to recover from a wrist injury.

The Russian 17th seed had taken a medical timeout midway through the first set.

Russian-born Kazakh player Rybakina is the highest seed left in the women's draw and will face Svitolina next.

After Iga Swaitek and Coco Gauff featured in a flurry of big names knocked out over the weekend, Rybakina is the only former Wimbledon champion left in the women’s draw.

The fourth seed dropped serve in the first game of the match and trailed 3-1 in the opener, but she then won five consecutive games, with two breaks to love, to take the first set.

She broke at the first opportunity in the second, defended a break-back point, and broke again to set up a commanding lead.

At that point Kalinskaya, who had been visibly struggling since the middle of the first set, decided not to risk further injury and forfeited the match.