Marta Kostyuk: Tennis star asks ‘What do I live for?’ as Ukrainians struggle with the strain of Russia’s invasion

At times, there is simply too much emotional turmoil and pain to understand as the 19-year-old Kostyuk, who was born in Kiev, reflects on the impact of Russia’s invasion on his country and his Ukrainian allies.

“Right now is something indescribable, I would say, because there’s a parent of a tennis player who died,” Kostyuk told CNN Sport. “There’s a tennis player’s house that is completely destroyed,” she said.

Kostyuk’s own mental health has also been affected.

“It was extremely difficult, the first week or two,” she told CNN in a telephone interview earlier this month.

“It’s been two months and you know it’s up and down, it’s changing. I’m trying to guide myself a little bit, just trying to see where I am. Trying to feel myself and trying to figure it out. myself.” she added.

Kostyuk is extremely aware of the importance of trying to control her emotions and says she has worked with a psychologist.

“I started a few weeks ago, which helps me tremendously. But you know, sometimes it goes to some degree that it’s scary, the thoughts that come to you,” Kostyuk added.

“I do not want to say the words because you know you can figure out what I’m trying to talk about.

“Because at that point, there are so many things going on, you have to carry so much at once that you’re like, I can not handle this anymore.

“I’m just thinking, what’s the point of it all? It never ends like, what should I do with my life now? What do I live for?” she said.

Marta Kostyuk is ranked No. 74 in the world in singles and No. 60 in doubles.

‘I should not be silent’

What has helped Kostyuk and given her purpose is to try to inform people about the war in Ukraine.

“Everyone does it differently, but the only goal I have is not to feel like I’m a victim in this situation,” she said.

“Because I’m not, and I’m not positioning myself like this. For the first two weeks [of the invasion]I had a feeling I was a victim, I do not know what to do because I rarely feel that way in my life.

“And this was the turning point for me when I changed this mindset of not being a victim,” she said.

“I must not be silent. I must not say what I think. I must not scream all the way up into my lungs, like, please help us. We say specifically what we need help with.

“I’m still a tennis player and I still want to compete. I do not want to get hurt. I do not want to go to this to specific points where I’m just, ‘you know what? I’m done.’ I can not play tennis at this time … I can not do anything. “

Kostyuk is one of several Ukrainian players who have called on Russian and Belarusian athletes to condemn the Russian government’s decision to invade Ukraine if they want to compete in international competitions.

‘Enormous responsibility’

Earlier this month, Wimbledon organizers announced that Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to compete in this year’s edition following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Twenty-two grand slam champion Serb Serb Novak Djokovic criticized the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at Wimbledon this year, calling the movement “insane”.

Meanwhile, Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev said the ban is “illogical” and equates to “complete discrimination.”

At a media conference on Tuesday, Ian Hewitt, president of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which runs Wimbledon, said: “It is not discrimination in the form that is being said, it is a considered view, the right and responsible decision in any case. “

"I would not want to live in a country that does not allow me to express myself,"  Kostyuk told CNN.

In a Twitter post earlier in April, Kostyuk said: “As athletes, we live a life in public and therefore have an enormous responsibility … In times of crisis, silence means agreeing on what is happening.”

In addition to Kostyuk, Ukrainian players Elina Svitolina and Sergiy Stakhovsky are among those calling on the WTA, ITF and ATP to ask players of these two nationalities to condemn the invasion.

‘Inside the trip we are alone’

Kostyuk told CNN that critics of her position have claimed that “tennis players … have nothing to do with politics.”

“I do not understand what is the point of dividing these two things? It is one big system we revolve in. One cannot live without the other, and vice versa,” she said.

“So for me [the idea that] “sports are out of politics.” Honestly, for so many years, it has been proven completely the opposite, “she said.

“We’re trying to talk about the fact that none of the players have actually come up and talked to us to try to help in any way,” she said.

“We used to be friends with a lot of players. I’m not friends with anyone anymore, as a single player,” she said.

“We know the whole world is trying to support us [Ukraine]. Everyone knows that what is going on is wrong. And yet we are alone inside the trip, “she said.

Kostyuk plays a match in a match against Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus during day two of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament on 15 February 2022.

In response to Wimbledon’s decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from this year’s tournament, the WTA distanced itself from AELTC’s decision.

“The WTA strongly condemns the actions taken by Russia and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“We continue our humanitarian relief efforts to support Ukraine through the Tennis Plays for Peace,” the organization said in a statement, adding that they were “very disappointed” by the decision of the AELTC and the Lawn Tennis Association, which also announced that they would ban Belarus and Russian athletes from competing in their events.

“A fundamental principle of the WTA is that individual athletes can participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination,” they added.

The ATP took a similar stance, saying the decision was “unfair and has the potential to set a detrimental precedent for the game.”

“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon, which states that the player’s access is based solely on the ATP rankings,” they added.

“It is important to emphasize that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has so far been shared across professional tennis.”

“Everyone has a choice”

Kostyuk said, however, that she believes Russian and Belarusian players have a responsibility to take a stand on the invasion if they do not support it.

“Russian tennis players, some of whom do not actually live in Russia. [They] have every right to take their family and move out and say what they really feel is the right thing to do if they feel they have to speak out against it.

“Still, they do not. They had enough time to do so, let’s be honest,” she added.

“Everyone has a choice to make. There are a bunch of tennis players who have the resources to move their family out of the country. And yet they do not. Why I do not know.

“I would not want to live in a country that does not allow me to speak out; that does not allow me to live my life; that (wants) my family in danger because of my actions.

“That’s why we’re trying to force them to say no anyway, as even if you support this invasion, talk about it; just say your opinion in public. But they know that if they do, they will be out of work, ” she said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.