New mum Svitolina 'super excited' about comeback

 - Simon Cambers

The Ukrainian is relishing life with less pressure as she restarts her Grand Slam career

Elina Svitolina, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

When Elina Svitolina announced in May 2022 that she was pregnant, she could easily have been forgiven if she had wanted to call it a day, having enjoyed a stellar career and reached No.3 in the WTA rankings.

But the Ukrainian had unfinished business.

“There [are] a few points that motivated me to come back,” Svitolina told reporters at Roland-Garros on Monday after beating former semi-finalist Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-2 in what was her first Grand Slam event since the 2022 Australian Open.

“I already knew when I was pregnant that I would come back, because I want to do it for myself. I have some goals that I want to complete before I retired completely.”

Making a difference

Svitolina is donating her prize money to help children in Ukraine and is hoping she can bring some happiness to people back home during these difficult times.

“Of course, for my country, to bring these little moments like, for example, winning Strasbourg, starting well here, as well; these kind of moments, these little wins, on the level which is very low, these moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war and now maybe they don't have the opportunity," she said.

“These moments…can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themself as much as they can in this horrible situation.”


Svitolina returned to the tour in April, five months after giving birth. It took her some time to find her feet but last weekend, she won her first title as a mother, in Strasbourg.

“I am super excited about the win and the comeback, of course,” she said. “Couldn't be better prepared for the Grand Slam after winning in Strasbourg. Played great tennis."

Elina Svitolina, Roland-Garros 2023, first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

A new approach

Having dropped as low as No.1344 in the WTA rankings in her absence from the tour, Svitolina will rise to at least No.150 on the back of her win here, a long way off her career-high of No. 3 but very much heading in the right direction.

This time round, the 28-year-old says she’s not feeling the kind of pressure she did before.

“Everything is pretty different,” she said. “First, I have different team right now. I'm a mum right now. So there's few things different and it feels different as well. You know, I'm not a top-10 or top-20 player now. I'm outside of 100, so I'm like top 200 now I think after Strasbourg.

“Also, less pressure, I would say, because right now I'm just gaining, gaining points, and coming back to the level, coming back to the tour. So everything is kind of old and new for me right now.”

Elina Svitolina, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

In a good place

If anything, Svitolina said she feels physically stronger than she did before, while the break seems to have refreshed her mentally, too.

“I feel great right now. I feel like I'm in good form physically. I worked hard in the gym and with my team as well. This was the focus for me, to be physically really fit.

“I feel like I'm as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I'm getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.

“I tried to find the balance, and I feel like I’m seeing [things] a little bit again differently as well after the break. Everything is getting there...the puzzles are getting slowly into place.”