For the Ukrainians competing in SW19, the war never leaves them.
And on Wednesday, Anilina Kalinina will face Lesia Tsurenko in an all-Ukrainian second round match, which they hope will draw attention to their country’s ongoing plight.
“There are big holes in the house, like huge holes,” she said, before revealing that the family now lives with her and her husband.
“It’s a very small apartment for my family, because my mum, dad, and brother all have pets.
“They are very happy, and we are grateful… that they have a place to move from Irbin City because Irbin was completely bombed.”
“I help a lot my grandmother and grandfather who are in the occupied territories now,” she added.
“They can’t leave. So the next door is like Russian soldiers with all their military stuff.”
After Kalinina beat Anna Bondar 4-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round, she earned 78,000 pounds ($96,000) to help her family. A win in the second round would net a total of 120,000 pounds ($147,000).
“I understand it’s hard to focus, but for me it’s important if I win or if I lose,” Kalinina said.
“If I go further, you will make more money. Then I will be able to help, and I help as much as I can and not just for my family. And that is important to me.”
“We still have a war and we need your help.”
On Wednesday, her opponent, Tsurenko, was working with a psychiatrist to overcome the trauma of the war.
While Tsurenko’s mother still resides in southern Ukraine, her sister now lives in Italy near her after living three months of war in Ukraine.
“I don’t feel well,” she told reporters. “I am really worried, especially because I know they are trying to get the only thing, which is 100 meters from my house, from my building.
“When the war started, I started feeling this tension inside of me…this feeling, this tension will only go out when the war is over. There is nothing I can do about it.”
In previous major tournaments this year, Tsurenko was drawn against the eventual champion in the opening round – Ashleigh Barty at the Australian Open and Iga Swiatek at the French Open.
But at Wimbledon, Tsurenko received a more favorable opponent in the first round and sent Britain’s Jodi Burridge with a 6-2 6-2 win.
Like Kalinina, her motivation to continue playing tennis stems from using her platform to help her country.
“I think that with all the athletes who are able to participate in the competitions, as well as with all the singers who go to Poland, to Germany, and give all the concerts, that part when the Ukrainians can go and remind the whole world that ‘we are here and we are still at war and we need your help.
“This is the main thing I wish would happen, which is that we get a lot of heavy weapons. We just want to be reminded [people] Ukraine is in trouble and we need help.”
The tennis player said the hardest part for her is that she knows the people on the front lines.
“The Russians kidnapped a man, so we don’t know what’s going on with him,” she said.
We know he is alive. There are two more men fighting there at the moment, and a few people actually died because of the war.
On Monday, the two players did not decide how to honor their homeland during the match.
“It is great that we two meet in the second round, so there will be one Ukrainian in the third round,” she added.
Tsurenko said she would wear a Ukrainian ribbon on her set if she was allowed to.