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Some players dream of playing at Wimbledon at least once in their career. For others, the possibility they might one day win the title pushes them to incredible lengths. For some, merely winning a match at Wimbledon is worth much more than that.
For Anhelina Kalinina, a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 winner over Anna Bondar on Monday, the £78,000 she is guaranteed for reaching round two will go toward helping her family rebuild their home in Ukraine, which, she revealed, has been bombed by Russian forces.
“It’s hard to focus, but for me it matters if I win or if I lose,” she said, after setting up a second-round match with another Ukrainian player, Lesia Tsurenko. “I’m not only helping my family, I’m helping other families and other people. It’s a privilege to play here. It’s a privilege to play every tournament. [If] you go further, you earn more money. Then I’m able to help, and I’m helping as much as I can and not only to my family. So for me that matters.”
It was Tsurenko, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over the British wildcard Jodie Burrage, who first passed on the news about Kalinina’s family home. Kalinina, the No 29 seed, said the family were now living in her own apartment in Ukraine while their house was being restored.
“First of all, their house was attacked. There are huge holes in the house, like huge holes,” she said. “There are no apartments any more. So now this home is getting rebuilt, so they can’t live there. So they live in my apartment where I’m living with my husband.
“It’s a very small apartment for my family, because, like, my mum, my dad, my brother, and they have pets. Currently, they are rebuilding the house. Now they are at home safe. They have everything. Yes, I’m grateful that they have opportunities to live, and I am playing tennis. So that’s good.”
Ons Jabeur, the third seed, was relieved to avoid the same fate she suffered at Roland-Garros, where last month she was beaten in the first round. This time, her 6-1, 6-3 win over Mirjam Björklund of Sweden ensured she is looking ahead, with her eyes on creating yet more history for Arab and African tennis.
A quarter-finalist last year, the 27-year-old arrived at Wimbledon as the new world No 2 – the highest ever ranking by any African player – which has brought its own pressure, though this time she looks to be enjoying it.
“Tennis is a tricky sport,” said Jabeur, who will play Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa in the second round. “You can lose every week, which is not fun. But the thing is, like I said before in the beginning of the season, I was like No 10 and nine, I said, I belong in this ranking and I don’t feel I deserve the spot to be maybe five or four. Now I feel like I deserve it even more. I feel like I even gained and won matches to prove myself on this level. I do feel more confident. I do feel like I deserve to be in this level. Hopefully next step will be No 1.”
Anett Kontaveit, the second seed and the woman Jabeur replaced as the world No 2, came through a tough first set with Bernarda Pera before pulling away for a 7-5, 6-0 victory.