The public at the Porte d’Auteuil had not seen her since 2021 and her defeat in the 3rd round against Barbora Krejcikova (current 4th in the world), but Elina Svitolina could see that he had not forgotten her. Warmly encouraged by some 3,500 spectators, who did not hesitate to throw “Come on Elina! », the Ukrainian signed a winning return to Roland-Garros on Monday 29 May. The 192ᵉ world, but which benefits from a protected classification, did not drag (6-2, 6-2 in 1 h 10) against the Italian Martina Trevisan, seeded nᵒ 26 and semi-finalist the year last, under the eyes of her husband, Gaël Monfils – who will compete on Tuesday against the Argentinian Sebastian Baez.
While she had not set foot on the Parisian clay court last year, “exhausted by war” but especially pregnant, Elina Svitolina quickly found her marks and recited her tennis on the Simonne-Mathieu court. Always impeccable on her line with early ball catches, the former no 3 World placed sharp forehand accelerations and some well-felt offbeat climbs.
However, the 28-year-old player is the first surprise to be present at Porte d’Auteuil. “I never thought it would be possible”, she confided to the Telegram at the beginning of May. And for good reason: only seven months ago, she gave birth to a little girl named Skai. “It is very special for me to win my first Grand Slam match [après sa pause] here in Paris, where I have very good memories”she reacted on the court after the meeting.
It was in March 2022 that Elina Svitolina learned of her pregnancy, a week after the start of the war in Ukraine. She still decides to line up in Monterrey (Mexico) and Indian Wells (United States), but her mind is elsewhere. “I really pushed my limits, physical and mental, but it became impossible to concentrate on tennis”she confided to The team in April.
Committed to his country
So the Ukrainian, already weakened by a back injury, put away the rackets earlier than expected. This year spent away from the courts which allows him to enjoy his family life with Gaël Monfils, then injured, and to return to Ukraine in February. There, she visits her grandmother, who has remained in Odessa, and meets the president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The tennis player has given way to the committed woman.
In June 2022, she became the ambassador of the United 24 association – created by the Ukrainian president – which helps Ukraine and for which she has already raised more than a million dollars. Far from the circuit, she does not hesitate to make her voice heard, deploring in particular the absence of suspension of the Russians and Belarusians.
In the locker room, tensions are still high and this was seen again on Sunday during the match between Aryna Sabalenka (2ᵉ) against Marta Kostyuk (28ᵉ). Invited to a press conference to react to the absence of a handshake between the two players – a common occurrence since the start of the Russian invasion – Elina Svitolina instead invited “everyone to help the Ukrainian people”. “It’s the most important thing and we’re missing out on that”she added in a trembling voice, also confirming that she was going to give the winnings of her victory in Strasbourg last week to Ukrainian children.
Falling back beyond the 1,000th place in the world when it resumed in April in Charleston (United States) and already back in the top 200, the one who describes herself as a “full mom” seems close to his level of play before. And if she has “always had in mind to come back for [elle] and achieve the goals [lui] stay “she now also plays for her people. “I want to bring these little moments of joy to Ukrainians in this horrible situation”concluded the Ukrainian player.