Lesia Tsurenko feels ‘very guilty’ playing tennis during war in Ukraine

Tsurenko is set to send £12,000 back home to help with the war against Russia

Lesia Tsurenko celebrates after beating fellow Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina in the second round at Wimbledon (John Walton/PA)
Lesia Tsurenko celebrates after beating fellow Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina in the second round at Wimbledon (John Walton/PA)

Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko admitted to feeling guilty after she made the third round at Wimbledon but is pleased to be able to send more money back home to help with the ongoing war in her country.

A 3-6 6-4 6-3 win over compatriot Anhelina Kalinina on Wednesday has earned the world number 101 a pay day so far of £120,000 for her efforts at the All England Club.

Tsurenko, who wore a yellow and blue ribbon during the round two tie in support of her country, has already pledged to donate 10 per cent of her prize money to the humanitarian efforts taking place in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion back in February.

“It’s just horrible what is going on in Ukraine,” the 33-year-old admitted after she made the last-32 in SW19 for a second time.

“I feel terrible and I feel very guilty. I feel that it seems like there is nothing I can do, so the only thing is continue playing and – as I said – I donate 10 per cent of my prize money.

“The horrible things that are going on in Ukraine in the last week, terrorist act, a lot of civilians dead and especially it’s very painful for me to see that Russian propaganda is just saying that, for example, that shopping mall in Kremenchuk was not working. That’s a lie because my fitness coach he’s from that city.

“His mother-in-law, she’s working in this shopping centre and she was lucky that she had a day off.”

Today, on the way from hotel to the club, we got a driver. She took two people from Ukraine in her house. So I think it's amazing when help Ukrainians so much.

Lesia Tsurenko

Had events elsewhere at Wimbledon gone different on day three, Tsurenko could have been set for a potential Court One appearance next up but Anett Kontaveit, the second seed, was knocked out by Germany’s Jule Niemeier.

The Ukrainian number five did appreciate being put on one of the show courts for her battle with fellow countrywoman Kalinina and there was plenty of support.

Several Ukraine flags were unveiled on Court 12 and Tsurenko herself wore a yellow and blue ribbon on the right strap of her white vest during two hours and 30 minutes of high-quality tennis.

“I asked (All England Club) and the answer was yes, we can wear it,” Tsurenko revealed.

Anhelina Kalinina (left) and Lesia Tsurenko (right) before the match (John Walton/PA)

“It was a big court. Two Ukrainians, a lot of people were watching us, and we felt amazing support, for sure.

“Today, on the way from hotel to the club, we got a driver. She took two people from Ukraine in her house. So I think it’s amazing when help Ukrainians so much.

“Any support that you give to Ukrainians is amazing.

“If there is something that every person in this world can do, I think it’s good if they do it. If they think that to donate 10 dollars means nothing, no, it’s not true. It means a lot.

“In the city, in the main city of my region, Mykolaiv region, they don’t have water for few months already, so if you think that 10 dollars is nothing, is 10 bottles of water for these people.”

Fellow Ukrainian Kalinina did not wear a yellow and blue ribbon on her outfit but did put one on her tennis bag.

She admitted the only time she temporarily forgets about the war is when she is playing.

Kalinina said: “When I’m on the court, I’m trying to think about mostly what’s going on on the court, because otherwise I would not be able to maybe hit few balls in the court.

Anhelina Kalinina suffered defeat (John Walton/PA)

“So when I go outside the match, yes, it never finishes. It’s not finished yet, and of course you can’t forget, you will never forget this. So, yes, on the court I’m trying to focus on the game.”

World number 34 Kalinina will remain in London for a little longer with doubles action alongside Irina-Camelia Begu starting on Thursday.

“I’m still playing doubles, so hopefully we will do great,” she added.

“We want Ukraine to win. We are praying for peace, but I can’t even imagine when we would be able to go home.”

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