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Ukrainian pair plan show of solidarity ahead of second-round match at Wimbledon

(John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Ukrainian tennis players Lesia Tsurenko and Anhelina Kalinina are utilizing their second-round match at Wimbledon to help their families in the war-torn country.

Kalinina said Monday that her prize money will be sent home to family and friends. She and Tsurenko also are discussing a display of solidarity when they meet in the second round Wednesday.

Kalinina revealed that her family is currently living with her in Kiev after their apartment was bombed.

“Thanks God they are alive. They are safe. But they live like many other Ukrainians, on the bags, so you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “There are huge holes in the house. There are no apartments anymore.

“So they live in my apartment where I’m living with my husband. It’s a very small apartment for my family .. my mum, my dad, my brother, and they have pets. It’s hard to focus, but for me it matters if I win or if I lose. I’m not only helping my family, I’m helping other families.”

She also said that the ban of Russian players was the furthest thing from her mind while playing Wimbledon.

“We cannot compare this with what they are now missing and how many millions of people are killed, still dying, and how many refugees are brought and surviving, with mothers with their kids, people are out of money, out of family, out of their jobs. They don’t have anything. They are like homeless,” she said.

Tsurenko, meanwhile, revealed that she is unhappy with the WTA’s decision to remove ranking points from Wimbledon. She also said that the lack of Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon has led to less tension in the locker room.

“I feel good being at the tournament without having to see players from those countries again,” she said. “In most of the cases it’s nothing personal. It’s just the situation that our countries are in a war now. So for me it’s definitely less tension and I feel better.

“I don’t feel good seeing them because, as I have said before, it’s about me personally. I don’t know about other Ukrainian players, but I just heard from one Belarusian player that she’s supporting us, me, and Ukraine, and she’s against the war.”

Tsurenko added that her motivation for playing is to keep focus on the war and how Ukraine needs help.

“I feel that I play better, just because for me emotionally winning or losing doesn’t exist anymore,” she said. “For me, there is a big issue in my life: it’s war. And there is nothing else that can beat this.

“You know, it’s just that we should remind with the fact that we are here and we are playing for my country, for Ukraine. We just want to remind that Ukraine is in trouble and we need help.”