Dayana Yastremska, the 22-year-old tennis player from Ukraine, practically carried her national flag with her all along the tournament. Whenever the match was over, she wore her Ukrainian flag and answered the applause of her crowd. Though worn out both physically and emotionally, Yastrzemski showed the world she would always stand by Ukraine.
The 140th-ranked Ukrainian female tennis player won the second place of the Lyon Open, defeated 1-2 to Zhang Shuai, who is ranked 64th in the world. It was Yastremska’s first bid to make it to the singles final in two years and two months since Adelaide International in 2020, but she had to take a raincheck for her fourth champion title. Yastremska said she will donate the entire sum of prize money worth 14,545 euros to her country.
The Ukrainian refugee continued to hold the limelight throughout this tournament. Hailing from Odessa, the port city of Ukraine, Yastremska was planning to fly to France to take part in the Lyon Open, which had been kicked off on Feb. 27, but the airway was shut down after the Russian invasion to Ukraine. Driving not being an option, she had to take a boat to visit France.
Given a wildcard into the doubles draw, Yastremska was teamed up with her sister Ivanna but eliminated on the first round. But Yastremska refused to pack up so early. With her country suffering so much pain, the Ukrainian pulled it through, advancing all the way down to the finals in such an unpredictable run.
“If Ukrainian people are watching me, I want to say you guys are so strong, you have an amazing spirit,” said Yastremska in an interview after the game. “I tried to fight for Ukraine, I want to say thanks to every single person from Ukraine for standing by Ukraine.”
Dong-Wook Kim firstname.lastname@example.org