The Fort Worth Press - Ukraine's Yastremska sisters reflect on hiding from bombs, after tennis return

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Ukraine's Yastremska sisters reflect on hiding from bombs, after tennis return
Ukraine's Yastremska sisters reflect on hiding from bombs, after tennis return

Ukraine's Yastremska sisters reflect on hiding from bombs, after tennis return

Ukrainian tennis player Dayana Yastremska said she was "woken up by the bombs" during Russia's invasion before fleeing her country last week, after playing with her younger sister in a doubles match at the WTA tournament in Lyon on Monday.

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The 21-year-old and her sister Ivanna, 15, were given a wildcard into the doubles draw after escaping Ukraine.

They lost 6-2, 6-4 to Spaniard Georgina Garcia-Perez and Switzerland's Xenia Knoll in the first round, but understandably their focus was on what is happening back home.

"I am proud of my sister but at the same time, we did not have too much energy with what is happening in Ukraine," Dayana Yastremska, who said she went three nights without sleep, told a press conference.

Her sister did not speak to the press, but wore a Ukrainian flag on her shoulders, as she had done when walking out for the match earlier in the day.

Dayana, who reached a career-high singles ranking of 21st in 2020, received a wildcard to the Lyon tournament last Tuesday, two days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

"On Wednesday, we were at home in Odessa," she said. "We were spending time with our family before making this long trip to Lyon with my father.

"The evening was pleasant, but the next morning we were woken up by bombs.

"We didn't realise or understand what was going on. It was crazy. It wasn't a film or a video game -- we were very shocked.

"We left the apartment to take shelter in the underground car park while the bombs continued to explode."

Dayana then recounted her journey to reach Romania after her father, who stayed behind in Ukraine, decided to send his wife and two daughters away to safety.

"The journey took four hours to reach the Danube on the Romanian border," she said. "We were afraid of bombs or Russian tanks.

"There was a long line of cars at the border and we ended up on foot. That's where we said goodbye to our parents, because our mother stayed in the end.

"On the other side, after passing the controls, people were nice and gave us food and drink."

Ivanna Yastremska has only played four matches in her young singles career on the ITF Juniors Circuit. Dayana says it is now her responsibility to look after her younger sister.

"I'm 21 and I'm used to travelling with my mother or father who controlled everything, in a good way. It was easy but now it's the opposite and more difficult.

"Right now, Ivanna is coming with me and I have a huge responsibility. I'm proud of her -- she's just starting out in professional tennis."

Dayana will play her first-round singles match on Tuesday, against Romania's Ana Bogdan.

"I can't fully focus on tennis but what motivates me the most is my country and its people trying to save their lives," she added.

T.Dixon--TFWP