Elina Svitolina spoke about how her popularity in her country, Ukraine, increased since she beat Serena Williams in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. "I was at the fashion week. I learned that everyone was following my results and they knew I had beaten Serena.
That's very important for me. I want tennis to get more popular in Ukraine so that people make an effort playing this sport", said Svitolina. Svitolina did not play in Russia for three years, and now she is back at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
The Ukrainian admitted she is not too calm heading into this tournament as there is a conflict between Moscow and Kyiv and in 2016 tournament she got threatened, and after losing to the local player Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals, she cried in a press conference.
After that match, Svitolina had said: "To be honest for me this tournament was mentally very difficult. On Sunday, for example, there were a lot of bad messages - I do not know why. Even some threats. It's tough. There are people who bet.
I do not know the details about it. I do not know who those people where. But if people write that they know where I live, in which hotel, what can I say? Here the organization is very good but I do not know if I will be back."
In 2016, before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Ukraine's Sports Minister Igor Zhdanov told the country's athletes not to speak to Russian journalists. Svitolina went against this rule. "If some Ukrainian athletes do not want to communicate with Russian people or people who work for the Russian press, that's their choice. For me there is nothing wrong", she concluded.