(Reuters) – Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina said she will use her prize money from Wimbledon to help rebuild her parents’ home after it was bombed during the Russian invasion.
Kalinina said her parents are now staying at her apartment while the rebuilding work takes place at their home in Irpin, which was retaken from Russian troops in late March.
The town, near the capital Kyiv, was heavily damaged at the start of the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.
“Their house was attacked. There are huge holes in the house. There are no apartments anymore,” said Kalinina, who is seeded 29th at the grasscourt Grand Slam.
“So now this home is getting rebuilt, so they can’t live there. They live in my apartment where I’m living with my husband.
“Now they are at home safe, they have everything. I’m grateful that they have the opportunities to live, and I am playing tennis.”
Wimbledon banned players from Russia and Belarus from playing at this year’s tournament following the invasion.
After beating Anna Bondar 4-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round Kalinina will next face compatriot Lesia Tsurenko, who said winning or losing tennis matches was not a priority for her while her hometown Kyiv comes under renewed attack.
For Kalinina, however, each victory is a way of helping families in Ukraine survive the war.
“It’s hard to focus, but for me it matters if I win or if I lose,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m helping my grandmother and grandfather, who are in occupied territory now.
“The more I win, I’m helping other families and other people. It’s a privilege to play here, it’s a privilege to play every tournament. If you go further, you earn more money … For me, that matters.
“I’m not a superstar so I’m helping with what I can. And it’s a lot to them, and for me that’s huge motivation to play.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)