Ukrainian tennis pro Elina Svitolina is refusing to play Russia in her next match

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Given the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, renowned tennis star Elina Svitolina has publicly shared that she won't play her Russian opponent, Anastasia Potapova, in their next match.

Svitolina has taken to social media to rally both fans and board members of the mayor tennis associations, like the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), to stand with Ukraine and show their solidarity with the country.

She is asking both the WTA and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to act against Russian athletes following Putin's invasion of her home country.

So far, both Formula One and FIFA have banned Russians from the sporting events in a bid to show their support of Ukraine.

However, no official statements have been made by tennis governing bodies.

While Svitolina is clear that it's nothing personal and that she doesn't hold anything against Potapova, her opponent, she is firm that she will not be playing her given the current climate.

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She said on Instagram: "Dear all, I believe the current situation requires a clear position from our organisations: ATP, WTA and ITF."

"As such we – Ukrainian players – requested to ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC 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 organisations take this necessary decision."

"I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland."

"Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarusians, who bravely stated their position against the war."

"Their support is essential."

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They were due to compete at the Monterrey Open in Mexico, a pro women's tennis tournament affiliated with the Women's Tennis Association.

Shortly after Svitolina's post, Potapova shared her own stance on the situation, sharing that she is against "grief, tears, and wars" and added that they are both "hostages of the current situation."

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There hasn't been an official statement from the WTA since Svitolina's post and it is unclear how the situation will progress at current.

However, on Monday, the International Olympic Committee stepped forward to ask sporting heads and governing bodies to "not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions."

Their statement read: "We are committed to fair competitions for everybody without any discrimination. The current war in Ukraine, however, puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma."

"While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country."

"This is a dilemma which cannot be solved. The IOC EB has therefore today carefully considered the situation and, with a heavy heart, issued the following resolution:"

"In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions."

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.