Elina Svitolina rallied to defeat Storm Hunter at the French Open, only 24 hours after supporting her husband Gaël Monfils in his intense match against Sebastián Báez.
Svitolina dropped the first set against her Australian counterpart 6-2 but stormed back in emphatic fashion winning the last two sets 3-6 1-6 to wrap up the second round win.
Monfils initially lost the first set against Báez, but he fought back and managed to secure a win in five sets, with a final score of 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5. The intense game lasted for three hours and 47 minutes, with a lively home crowd cheering on Monfils.
Svitolina’s preparations were slightly different than usual due to Monfils’ match going the distance, but this did not affect her performance.
“I observed the entire game and stayed up until midnight when it ended. I went to bed immediately and slept well. I was able to get a solid seven hours of sleep, which is rare during the grand slam.”
“It provided me with the drive to go out and play again today. He was there for me, making a significant effort to come and support me on such a challenging day. His presence motivated me to persevere and give my all on every point, giving 100% effort out on the court,” said Svitolina.
On July 16, 2021, the couple tied the knot and their daughter, Skaï Monfils, was born in October 2022. Skaï is currently attending the French Open and Monfils dedicated his victory to her. This is also the first tournament where both parents have competed together since Monfils’ past struggles with injuries.
“This is our first tournament together where both of us are competing, and Skaï is also here with us in Paris. It’s truly a special moment,” Svitolina remarked following her victory.
“We are currently experiencing smooth sailing and thoroughly relishing our time together both on and off the court. Our goal is to maintain focus and give our best performance during games.”
It is crucial to have a dedicated team for Skaï so that we can fully concentrate on tennis. This is especially important during a major event with high levels of stress and distractions. Having peace of mind about our child allows us to give our full attention to the game.
In addition to caring for a child and participating in a major tennis tournament, Svitolina also faces a constant feeling of “heaviness” due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“I am experiencing emotions such as anger, sadness, and pain in my heart when I see everything that is happening. I follow news about my hometown of Odessa and all of Ukraine through a few Telegram channels. They report on events such as alarms, missile strikes, and the impact of our Ukrainian Army and Air Force,” stated the 28-year-old individual.
These moments bring about a combination of emotions, but they are all negative. Anger, sadness, and a heavy burden are what I feel on a daily basis, as do all Ukrainians. This weight has been with us for the past year and a half, and there is no escaping it.
The 192nd ranked player in the world also mentioned how she draws inspiration from the war to drive her success in tennis.
“When I enter the court, I focus on the resilient spirit that Ukrainians possess and how they fight for their values and freedom in Ukraine. I see myself as fighting on my own personal frontline here,” explained Svitolina.
“I cannot feel sadness or allow myself to be distracted. I am determined not to lose. I recall feeling deeply saddened when the war began, while I was in Monterrey, Mexico. As I entered the court, I felt a heavy weight on my shoulders and almost cried.”
I realized that every time I play on the court, I will give it my all because I am representing my country. The flag next to my name is a reminder to always fight for my country whenever I step on the court.
Svitolina is currently awaiting her opponent in the third round of Roland-Garros, while Monfils is getting ready to face Holger Rune in the second round.