Elina Svitolina praises ‘unbelievable’ support after Wimbledon exit | Wimbledon 2023

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An emotional Elina Svitolina thanked the people of Ukraine and all over the world for their “massive support” after she was beaten in the semi-finals at Wimbledon on Thursday .

Fighting back tears as she reflected on her efforts over the past two weeks, the 28-year-old was bitterly disappointed after losing 6-3, 6-3 to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, costing her a place in a first grand slam final.

“For sure, [I had)] massive support,” Svitolina said. “I got a lot of messages from different people. It’s unbelievable that they have been there with me all the way. Hopefully they continue. It’s a big motivation, but … it’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of tension.

“I try to balance it as much as I can. Sometimes it gets maybe too much but I don’t want to take it as an excuse that I lost today. I try to take it as a motivation. I just hope that Ukrainian people continue supporting me. It was really amazing. And [I] just hope that I’m going to get another chance.”

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Svitolina had beaten the world No 1, Iga Swiatek, in the previous round but found Vondrousova, full of drop shots, angles and changes of pace, too much to handle.

“I had to deal with the situation maybe a bit better but I wouldn’t say I was too nervous,” she said. “It was just I should have found a better way to deal with Marketa’s game-style. She’s a very tricky opponent. She gets lots of balls back. I’m just not very happy the way that I dealt with the situations, with some points at the beginning, as well. She played really well, dealt with my game better today.”

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Marketa Vondrousova kneels after beating Elina Svitolina.
A relieved Marketa Vondrousova sinks to the floor after beating Elina Svitolina. Photograph: Visionhaus/Getty Images

Trailing 6-3, 4-0, 40-0, Svitolina gave herself hope when she got herself back on serve at 4-3, only to play a loose game to be broken again as Vondrousova went on to claim victory. “I tried to fight back, but I guess I rushed [a] little bit myself and didn’t serve well on that game when it was 4-3,” she said. “It was a lot of people, a semi-final, so you don’t have time to just let it go. I tried to fight. Got a few games back. I tried to give everything out there even though I didn’t play my best. Didn’t happen. She played great. She was really patient, was playing really great points until the very end.”

Svitolina said she was proud of the way she never gave up and how she dealt with her nerves. “Of course, not today,” she said. “Today I wish I played a bit better. I wish that some games I play better. But I think the matches that I played before, they were quite good.”

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Svitolina, who had her first child nine months ago, will move inside the world’s top 30 when the rankings are updated on Monday. Now she needs a rest. “I will need couple of days to really switch off myself first from everything and then think about what happened, what did I do right, and what did I do wrong as well.”

Svitolina’s compatriot Lyudmyla Kichenok won the mixed doubles title later in the day alongside her Croatian partner, Mate Pavic. The 30-year-old and Pavic defeated the Belgian Joran Vliegen and Xu Yifan of China 6-4, 6-7 (9), 6-3.

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Ons Jabeur reaches for a shot during her Wimbledon semi-final against Aryna Sabalenka
‘I’m going for it’: Ons Jabeur says she is determined to triumph in the Wimbledon final after her semi-final victory against Aryna Sabalenka. Photograph: The Guardian

“I try to encourage the people in Ukraine with my performance,” said Kichenok. “I hope it’s going to help them a little bit because they are fighting for their freedom.”

Like Svitolina, Ons Jabeur has acquired a legion of fans around the world, especially in Tunisia, and she has embraced the responsibility of leading the way for a country, or in her case a continent. Her fans call her the Minister of Happiness for Tunisia because of how she makes them feel.

“The good thing about those people, they always tell me, win or lose, we love you,” said Jabeur, who reached the final with a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Aryna Sabalenka. “That’s great words to hear. I always try to remember that, even though I know everybody wants me to win.

“They’re funny, because a few fans are texting my mental coach, giving her advice on how to coach me. For me there is one goal: I’m going for it. I will prepare 100%. Hopefully I can make history not just for Tunisia, but for Africa.”

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