Elina Svitolina Indian Wells 2021

Elina Svitolina refuses to play any Russian or Belarusian opponents amidst ongoing war

Elina Svitolina will boycott all matches against Russian or Belarusian opponents but has recognised that the athletes themselves are not to blame.

After announcing she will donate all prize money she earns to the Ukrainian war effort, Elina Svitolina has now doubled down and will boycott any matches she is scheduled to play against Russian or Belarusian counterparts.

At the Monterrey Open this week, Ukrainian Svitolina was set to play Russian Anastasia Potopova, however she has now revealed she will not play if the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) fail to take any form of action.

Currently, neither the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or the WTA have released statements regarding the situation.

In a post published to Twitter, Monterrey top seed Svitolina wrote “I believe the current situation requires a clear position from our organizations: ATP, WTA and ITF (International Tennis Federation).

“As such, we – Ukrainian players – requested to ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems.

“Accordingly, I want to announce that I will not play tomorrow in Monterrey, nor any other match against Russian or Belarusian tennis players until our organizations take this necessary decision.

“I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland [Ukraine]. Moreover, I wish to play tribute to all the players, especially Russian and Belarusians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential.”

Svitolina then clarified her stance again through Twitter, saying “I didn’t withdraw YET. As I mentioned in this statement, I will not compete if WTA will not take an action!”

Should tennis’ organising bodies class Russian and Belarusian players as ‘neutral athletes’, this will affect a variety of players.

On the men’s side this would affect new World number one Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev.

Whilst on the women’s side World number three Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermetova, Liudmila Samsonova, and Ekaterina Alexandrova would all be affected.

This may become a sport-wide issue as a number of international football teams have also announced they will not play the Russian team in any form of competition and as such Russia have been banned from the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.