Elina Svitolina returned to her war-torn homeland for the first time in nearly a year to fulfill some very important appointments.
The 29-year-old made the gravely disturbing trip to Ukraine via train from Poland. Her first stop was in Odesa to celebrate her grandmother's 85th birthday. Then she visited the city of Iprin, one of the most heavily bombed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last year.
There, she saw the restoration project currently taking place which involved the reconstruction of the buildings that were destroyed during the war thanks to United24, the official Ukrainian government-run charity, which has raised over $325 million since the creation of the initiative.
Svitolina who has served as the ambassador for the fundraising platform has used her voice to pool donations from the tennis world. In a recent interview with Ukrainian outlet Tribuna, she revealed that ATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas contributed to her own foundation (Svitolina Foundation).
And WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek who has been one of the biggest supporters of the Ukrainian cause also made a "large" donation to United24. These funds have helped to build tennis camps back in Ukraine, of which Svitolina has been giving tennis clinics to children during her current visit.
"Stefanos Tsitsipas made a donation to my foundation, I am very grateful to him. Iga Swiatek did a lot for Ukrainians, our foundation. She transferred a very large amount to United24. This really helped us to make the tennis camps for children that we hold every year. She is a very powerful support."
Svitolina also made a visit to Kharkiv to meet the military personnel and shared several images together with the uniformed unit. She posted an emotional message on Instagram, admitting she was "honored to personally thank the heroes."
The 29-year-old ended her 2023 season ranked 25th in the world rankings. It was an incredible effort considering she was unranked when she returned to the tour in early April following the birth of her first child. This was her first trip to Ukraine since February.