Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina is JEERED at the French Open

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Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina is JEERED at the French Open after turning down chance to shake hands with Russian opponent Anna Blinkova… but she insists she is ‘standing for my country’

  • Elina Svitolina is thriving in action in her first Grand Slam since she gave birth 
  • The Ukrainian was unfortunately jeered by some fans for a handshake snub 
  • Svitolina said she is ‘standing with her country’ after choosing not to shake the hands of her Russian opponent on Friday, after she defeated her to progress 

There was the romance of a love story for the ages, the controversy of the French crowd again booing a Ukrainian not shaking hands with a Russian and the inspiration of the fact Elina Svitolina is playing at her first Grand Slam since giving birth.

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With no Rafael Nadal on site, Svitolina’s journey is becoming the most heartwarming story of the first week at Roland Garros. 

She beat Anna Blinkova 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a tight three-set battle on Friday and then the new mother said she hopes to inspire others with her fast return.

The Ukrainian won an event in Strasbourg last week but was not expected to advance so far here after a speedy return from giving birth to Skai with fellow tennis player, Frenchman Gael Monfils, who had to pull out of the second round injured.

Monfils was in the front row shouting encouragement on Court Simonne Mathieu and Svitolina said: ‘It’s really special to have someone who understands what you go through to get these wins, and it’s special to share these moments together.

Elina Svitolina marched on to round four at the French Open after another impressive victory

Elina Svitolina marched on to round four at the French Open after another impressive victory

Svitolina (right) chose not to shake the hand of beaten Russian opponent Anna Blinkova (left)

Svitolina (right) chose not to shake the hand of beaten Russian opponent Anna Blinkova (left)

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‘It’s great to see him there supporting and getting nervous for me as well. Even though he looks very chilled and very relaxed, he told me he was quite nervous in that last game.’

Svitolina appeared to have tears in her eyes as she fought out a battling third set against Russian Blinkova. 

The Ukrainian did acknowledge her opponent but did not shake hands, with some fans jeering the snub.

‘I’m Ukrainian and I’m standing for my country,’ she said when asked about not shaking hands. ‘I’m doing everything possible in the way to support, to give a good spirit for the men, for the women who are right now in the frontline, fighting for our land and for our country.

‘Can you imagine the guy or girl who is right now in the frontline, looking at me and I’m acting like nothing is happening?

‘I’m representing my country. I have a voice. I’m standing with Ukraine.’

On her inspiring comeback from giving birth in October, Svitolina said: ‘I hope (I can be inspiring) because I take inspiration also from other women who gave birth and came back to sports.

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‘It takes a huge effort to do that. We have Tatjana Maria, who came back after two kids. It’s really inspiring, to be fair. I’m not sure I would come back after the second baby!

Svitolina was cheered on from the sidelines by Gael Monfils, who is in a relationship with her

Svitolina was cheered on from the sidelines by Gael Monfils, who is in a relationship with her

Blinkova walked off as Svitolina was jeered by some supporters after she sealed the victory

Blinkova walked off as Svitolina was jeered by some supporters after she sealed the victory

‘I have a team for Skai full-time taking care of her and then I have a chance to play a little bit of tennis.

‘So I admire mothers who are doing everything by themselves.’

Svitolina will play another Russian in the fourth round, Daria Kasatkina, the world No 9 who has been one of very few from Vladimir Putin’s country to condemn the regime.

‘I’m thankful to Daria for taking this position,’ Svitolina said. ‘That’s what you expect from others, as well. It’s really brave of her.’

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