Svitolina no longer in the shadows as she chases French Open glory


LONDON (Reuters) – Had it not been for a bout of childhood jealously, Elina Svitolina may by no means have turn out to be essentially the most profitable tennis participant to emerge out of Ukraine or be tipped as one of many favorites for this yr’s French Open title.

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina celebrates successful the Italian Open last in opposition to Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photograph

Determined to seize among the consideration her dad and mom Mikhaylo and Olena showered on her older brother Yulian, in 1999 Svitolina started pounding furry tennis balls with all the ability she might muster from her five-year-old physique.

“My brother was taking part in tennis … and he was getting all the eye from my dad and mom. So due to him I began taking part in tennis and for me it was essential to play nicely in order that I might get extra consideration from my dad and mom,” she instructed Reuters in a phone interview from Rome.

“They had been so into tennis, they had been touring with my brother. So taking part in tennis myself was the one means I might get their consideration. It actually motivated me and I grew to become the most effective in my group.”

Nearly 20 years on, the blonde 23-year-old shouldn’t be far off from turning into the most effective on this planet.

Now ranked fourth, Svitolina has been put in as one of many favorites to carry the Suzanne Lenglen Cup after she destroyed high ranked Simona Halep within the Italian Open last to win her 12th title on Sunday.

However having bagged extra tennis trophies than another Ukrainian – Andriy Medvedev held the earlier document of 11 – what Svitolina actually needs is to beat the highest rating.

“Undoubtedly for me, my objective is to be primary. In Ukraine, being primary is one thing larger (than successful a grand slam) as a result of numerous folks (discover you) if you’re primary on this planet,” stated Svitolina, who has a big tiger draped with a necklace tattooed on her left thigh.

“For the tennis world, successful a grand slam is perhaps higher however for individuals who have no idea tennis, being primary will get extra consideration.”

The little woman who as soon as harbored hopes of getting a bit extra consideration from her dad and mom can have no place to cover over the following fortnight as she takes middle stage on Roland Garros’ famed clay courts.

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina kisses the Italian Open trophy as she celebrates successful the ultimate in opposition to Romania’s Simona Halep REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photograph


There she is not going to solely need to enhance on her two quarter-final appearances however may even hope to emulate a feat final achieved by one in every of her former coaches, Justine Henin.

A junior champion in 1997, the Belgian went on to win 4 French Open titles from 2003 to 2007.

Svitolina hopes among the classes she discovered from Henin throughout their year-long affiliation in 2016 will assist her to turn out to be the primary girl since her former mentor to realize the junior and girls’s title double.

“There have been small particulars that she instructed me that I’ve to do on courtroom and off courtroom. She shared a variety of her expertise with me,” Svitolina, who captured the junior title aged 15 in 2010, stated.

So what precisely did Henin train her?

“It was extra about how she sees my sport, what I’ve to enhance to play extra persistently and be stronger. We’ve completely different taking part in kinds so I simply took on board what suited me and it helped me lots.”

The pursuit of greatness implies that the London-based Svitolina spends extra time on the street than in her homeland, however placing Ukraine on the tennis map stays the final word objective for a participant who was as soon as provided cash to modify allegiance to Israel.

“They provided me cash and free coaching… (however) I by no means considered it as a result of for me taking part in for Ukraine is particular as I used to be born there and I used to be raised there,” she stated.

“I’m very joyful I didn’t (take up that provide). In Ukraine tennis is getting extra widespread due to my outcomes and that is superb.”

And what about her brother, is he too scared to play her now?

“Yeah! The final time we performed in opposition to one another was most likely after I was 12,” she added with fun.

Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, modifying by Toby Davis

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