A new hero has emerged in the sport of tennis. Sergiy Stakhovsky, the Ukrainian who famously defeated Roger Federer on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in 2013, now aims to defeat a very different opponent.
Stakhovsky, who had relocated to Hungary, was compelled to choose between his family and his homeland, which is in danger of extinction. He knew he’d feel horrible if he didn’t return to Ukraine and join the military.
“I would like to have this history to tell to my kids. If all of us stayed back home, then Ukraine would fail – it would not even exist in the history books. According to Putin, Ukraine was created by Lenin as part of the USSR. These lies would eventually make it into history books. The entire history of Ukraine would then be non-existent…This is a war that decides whether Ukraine exists or not. I want to do everything I can,” he said, to BBC, Sky News, CNN, Fox, MSNBC to name a few media channels.
The 36-year-old, who rose to No. 31 in the world before retiring after the 2022 Australian Open, reflected on his difficult departure and said, “My children were watching cartoons as I was leaving Hungary. I didn’t want to distract them. My 3-year-old noticed me with my backpack…I told him I’ll be right back, otherwise, he would start crying. My wife was mad. She felt it was a betrayal. We talk now, which is an improvement, and I hope she’ll forgive me…It was a no-win scenario…I couldn’t forgive myself if I stayed. Now I can’t forgive myself now that I’m here. I had to make a difficult choice between my family and my country.”
The tennis star has suffered from a lot of hardships as, Sergiy was finally reunited with his father, a urology professor, and brother, both of whom had become doctors. Tears streamed down their cheeks as they finally met, but also because of the situation in the country. Every six or seven minutes, there were airstrikes. It was impossible to get any rest. As a result, his uncle left Ukraine.
Stakhovsky wants the West to shut down Ukraine’s airspace so that Ukrainian troops are not attacked from above. He says, “We want to be a normal civilized country, a democracy where you can actually elect your president. Our president is the only president we ever had who stood up for our country. All of them before were just political jokes. Zelensky may have been a comedian, but he’s for the people. He stands for his goals and morals. He risks his life, leads by example, and is willing to go the distance.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky offered financial help from Novak Djokovic
In addition, Sergiy Stakhosky asserted that sports do have politics. He said, “Political figures are trying to get support from sports figures…It was absolutely outrageous that we had Olympic medalists standing on a stage [at a Moscow concert] wearing the insignias of the Russian military and promoting the war. It’s bizarre…Unfortunately, we saw this in Hitler’s Germany. And if we’re going that way, the world should brace itself, because Ukraine is just the beginning.”
He also posted a moving message which was sent by Serbian player and world no.1 Novak Djokovic which said,” Stako, how are you man? Are you on the field? Thinking of you…hoping all calms down soon. Please let me know what would be the best address to send help.”
He also said that while it was not fair that Russian players should not be allowed in tournaments, the Russians should be accountable and this is one of the ply ways to make them feel guilty. He hopes that they elect a better leader in the future and educate themselves better.
While the 36-year-old player was one of the most skillful players on the court by defeating Roger Federer, he has proved that he is equally noble and brave off-court and helping civilians and rescuing them to safety. We hope that he continues with his heroic deeds and makes the country proud of having such an amazing human being.