Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska has been the feel-good story of tennis over the past week, with fans rallying around the 21-year-old following her unlikely charge at the WTA Lyon Final.
Unfortunately, Yastremska’s fairy tale reached the final in France had a devastating ending as the Ukrainian was beaten 3-6 6-3 6-4 against in-form Chinese rival Zhang Shuai.
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The 21-year-old broke down in tears after the game in scenes that were hard to watch for many fans who had cheered her on all week in the face of incredible adversity.
Yastremska had of course fled her hometown of Odessa with her younger sister a week earlier, after being shelled by Russian forces.
The parents of the Ukrainian sisters made the staggering sacrifice of getting their daughters out of the country at all costs, to ensure their safety.
Following her defeat in the Lyon final, as she had been doing all week, Yastremska took the microphone draped in the Ukrainian flag.
She admitted she was having trouble sleeping due to the unfolding crisis in her home country, in a touching speech where she also pledged to donate her award to a foundation in her home country set up to help people affected by war. .
Dayana Yastremska plays for the Ukrainian people
“The prize I win here, I will donate to the Ukrainian Foundation to support Ukraine,” Yastremska said before bursting into tears.
“If Ukrainians look at me I mean ‘you are so strong, you have an amazing spirit and I tried to fight for Ukraine’.
Fans were understandably gutted for Yastremska, although shortly after the match news that she had been granted a wildcard to play in the upcoming Indian Wells tournament was met with joy.
Yastremska was not originally on Indian Wells’ wildcard list but took Naomi Osaka’s place after Camila Giorgi’s withdrawal put the Japanese star in the crosshairs.
The Ukrainian star took to social media after his defeat in Lyon to thank fans around the world for their overwhelming support.
“My beloved Ukraine, I really wanted to win this one for you!” she wrote.
“I gave my best throughout this week because that’s what Ukrainians do!
“Thank you for all the support I’ve received this week, it means the world to me. I’m forever grateful!”
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