Wimbledon: Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko feels ‘guilty’ playing tennis during war

Lesia Tsurenko and Anhelina Kalinina
Lesia Tsurenko (right) has earned £120,000 for reaching the Wimbledon third round

Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko said she feels “guilty” after reaching the Wimbledon third round while there is a war in her country.

The 33-year-old says all she can do is keep playing and donating 10% of her prize money to help.

On Wednesday, she beat compatriot Anhelina Kalinina, who had earlier spoken of wanting to win more money to help rebuild her parents’ home.

Tsurenko said: “It’s just horrible what is going on in Ukraine.”

“I just feel terrible and I feel very guilty,” she added. “And I feel that it seems like there is nothing I can do.”

Tsurenko, who wore a ribbon in the yellow and blue colours of the Ukrainian flag on her outfit after the All England Club agreed to let her, was emotional when she spoke about the bombing of a shopping centre in Kremenchuk this week.

“My fitness coach, he’s from that city,” she said. “His mother-in-law was working in this shopping centre and she was lucky that she had a day off. Him and his father, they were not far away from that place. I think he got like some piece in his head.”

Fans waved Ukrainian flags on court 12 as Tsurenko beat the 29th seed 3-6 6-4 6-3 and she said both players had felt “amazing support”.

“Today on the way from the hotel to the club, we got a driver … (who) has taken two people from Ukraine into her house,” she added.

“I think it’s amazing when people help Ukrainians so much.”

Kalinina, meanwhile, is hoping to extend her stay in London by competing in the doubles before she has to carry on living out of suitcase.

The 25-year-old has not been home since the week before Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February and has no idea when she will be able to return.

“We are praying for peace, but I can’t even imagine when we would be able to go home. I’m jumping like everyone else from tournament to tournament,” said Kalinina.