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World No. 1 Iga Swiatek Takes Stand in Support of Ukraine

Iga Swiatek, who wears the Ukrainian flag on her baseball cap, says the WTA should do more to support Ukrainians. Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images

Iga Swiatek tops the world rankings and continues to carry her support for Ukrainian people on court.

If you’ve watched Swiatek play throughout the past year, then you know she’s worn a blue and yellow ribbon affixed to her white baseball cap as a show of support for Ukrainian people suffering violence and destruction at the hands of invading Russian forces.

The Polish superstar says living in a nation that neighbors Ukraine she’s aware of its people’s pain and continues to advocate for them.

Asked her reaction to Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko suffering a panic attack after a discussion with WTA Chief Steve Simon that prompted her to pull out of Indian Wells, Swiatek said the Tour should do more to support Ukrainians.

“There is a lot of tension in the locker room that – well, obviously it’s going to be there, because there is a war,” Swiatek said. “But maybe it should be a little bit less if WTA put some action at the beginning to kind of explain to everybody what is right and what is not.

“I totally understand why she withdrew, because honestly, like, I respect Ukrainian girls like so much, because if like a bomb landed in my country or if my home was destroyed, I don’t know if I could handle that, honestly, and play on WTA and compete.”

During the offseason, Swiatek led a charity exhibition that raised nearly a half-million dollars for Ukrainian aid. Swiatek said she wants to continue to provide aid to Ukrainians and urged tennis to do more, too.

“We should more focus on helping Ukrainian players and providing them everything that they need, because they basically have to take care of like all their families, and there’s a lot of baggage on their shoulders,” Swiatek said. “I’ll try to kind of help with that as well, because I guess with everything that is happening, the actions that were taken up to this point were, I don’t think they were enough.

“I think we all have the responsibility to kind of show the right example and right things. You know, I don’t have influence on some people’s values, but I think we are the ones that should set a good example. There is a responsibility on each of us.”

If tennis can pull off a successful “Hit for Haiti” charity exhibition as it did at the BNP Paribas Open years ago, why aren’t tournaments doing more fundraisers for Ukraine, which continues to suffer daily devastation and death.

Why are Iga Swiatek and Sir Andy Murray, who donated his entire 2022 prize money earnings to UNICEF’s aid to Ukrainian children, the only prominent champions stepping up to support Ukrainians when the need help most.

Wake up tennis players. If Putin razes Ukraine, he may well try to turn any neighboring nation into “rubble.”

Sports and politics don’t mix yet life and death issues transcend sport. Good to see Iga and Andy show courage and kindness supporting the Ukrainian people during this darkest hour.