Elina Svitolina is a name in the tennis world that many of her female rivals consider an inspiration. As the year 2023 began, the Ukrainian female tennis player was away from the tennis court and seven months later, the 28-year-old tennis star created a sensation by defeating world number one Iga Svetek on the grass courts of a major Grand Slam tournament like Wimbledon. When Switek hit an unforced error on a forehand in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, Svitolina bowed low to accept the applause of the crowd at SW19. Sweetek only made one quarterfinal at SW19, but beating him was no easy task.
Svitolina made it possible. Svitolina may have lost in the semifinals but there is nothing to regret. She had previously lost three Slam semis at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, but importantly, this time she returned to the court after becoming a mother and made it to the semi-finals. Svitolina herself said that it has been a very difficult two months for me not only mentally but also physically. I have been struggling with my back for a long time.
This pain did not allow me to prepare the best for the tournament. In March 2022, Svitolina felt that it would be better for her mental and physical well-being if she took a break from the sport. Ukraine’s war with Russia did not make life easy for her as she continued to work for her countrymen as well. Having not won a match at Indian Wells and the Miami Open last year, Svitolina felt the real heat and pressure.
Two months after that, she began preparing to give birth to her first child as a result of her marriage to French tennis star Gael Monfils. The day came in October when she became a mother. At that time, he must have realized the challenges of returning to court after a major development in his life. In January, Svitolina began training to get herself back into rhythm for future big challenges. She returned to competitive tennis on the WTA Tour in April, playing at the Charleston Open. Although she lost in the first round to Yulia Putintseva, she had already started writing her epilogue to start building a sensational narrative.
In May, Svitolina won the title in Strasbourg, defeating Anna Blinkova in straight sets in the final. Being a wildcard in the French Open 2023, no one expected much from the Ukrainian player. She made the most of the opportunity and then defeated 9th seed Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.. A month and a half later, Svitolina had gone from strength to strength..
The journey from taking a break to becoming a mother to beating World No. 1 Switek has been truly sensational. With the win over Switek, Svitolina became the first woman since Yvonne Goolagong in 1979 to reach the quarterfinals or beyond in her first two Grand Slams after giving birth. The pride of motherhood can be seen on Svitolina’s face every time she steps onto the tennis court. Even when he defeated Sweetek, that glow was visible on his face.