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Ukrainian Women Are Thriving at AO, Despite the Horrors of War

Marta Kostyuk reached her first major quarterfinal, and two other Ukrainian women could join her.

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday January 21, 2024

In the midst of personal turmoil, Ukrainian athletes are thriving at the Australian Open.

Marta Kostyuk, who broke through to reach her first major quarterfinal on Sunday, defeating Maria Timofeeva, 6-2, 6-1, has not been shy of reminding the public that Ukraine is in dire straits, and chastising journalists who stopped covering the story simply because stories about Ukraine don’t get as much traffic as they did at the start of the war.

Huge result for 🇺🇦 tennis 🤩

🎉 A new national record at Slams: 3 Ukrainian players will play in the 4th round (Marta Kostyuk, Elina Svitolina & Dayana Yastremska).

We’re so-so proud! 🥹
What a gift for all the fans here! 👏

— Ukrainian Tennis • BTU (@ukrtennis_eng) January 20, 2024

“The war is still there. People are still dying every day. I still don’t understand what all these players are doing here,” 21-year-old Kostyuk said earlier in the week. “Nothing really changed in my world. I feel like in general it’s a lot of processes happening to come to this point where people forget about it because, yeah, people get used to it.”

Kostyuk urged people not to become complacent about the injustice that is still happening to the Ukrainian people.

“I understand that everyone has their own issues, and everyone is focused on their thing. I think I’m here to remind everyone all the time that it’s still on, and it should be stopped. It’s not normal that it’s happening,” she said.

“My whole family is in Kyiv right now. My mom sends me videos when there are missiles flying over their house. I watch this. To me it’s incredible that it’s still going on, and it’s been almost two years – I feel like the west tries to silence everything down, like to talk less about it, to not escalate anything, but in reality, the reality that I’m living in, everything is very far from being over.”

Roaring into the quarterfinals 🗣️@marta_kostyuk knocks out Timofeeva, 6-2, 6-1.#AusOpen

— wta (@WTA) January 21, 2024

Kostyuk could be joined by two other Ukrainians in the quarterfinals – Elina Svitolina and Dayana Yastremska are set to play round of 16 matches on Monday.

Despite her success, and the success of her compatriots, Kostyuk says that life on tour can be harrowing because of the war.

“Sometimes the news is not great, and it can really shift the mood and shift your fighting spirit and so on because there are times where you really are like on the edge of giving up and on the edge of not understanding why the world is like this and not the other way,” she said. “I just try to grow through it and I try to establish myself in different ways, not even for people, but for myself, first of all.

“I think we will just keep on going and winning.”

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