Sergiy Stakhovsky, a Ukrainian tennis player, returns a ball during the Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Feb. 23, 2016. (Kamran Jebreili / AP)
By Jack Davis February 27, 2022 at 2:09pm
In his tennis career, Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky was a winner with four ATP titles to his name.
Now, he will risk everything on what he knows could be a losing cause — defending his homeland against the vastly larger Russian army.
Stakhovsky’s first step was to get his family to safety, according to Sky News.
“Of course I would fight, it’s the only reason I’m trying to get back,” Stakhovsky said.
I have never been more proud of my fellow countrymen!! Ukrainian military personnel !!! Be strong !! Many more are coming home to help you !!
— Sergiy Stakhovsky (@Stako_tennis) February 26, 2022
“I signed up for the reserves last week. I don’t have military experience, but I do have experience with a gun privately,” he said.
Stakhovsky knows the toll Russia is taking on the capital city of Kyiv, where his father and brother are at the center of the carnage.
Does America have this same level of patriotism?
“My dad and brother are surgeons, they are stressed out, but I speak to them frequently — they sleep in the basement,” he explained.
Stakhovsky said not everyone can fight, but everyone can do something.
“It makes the world of difference to our armed forces that they are not alone at least in a media environment, but let’s be realistic here, it’s been eight years of war with Russia, where was all of this for eight years?” he said.
Stakhovsky said even if the war goes badly, Ukrainians will fight on.
“Once Ukraine is lost, we will resist,” he said, admitting that resistance might fail.
“But let’s be realistic, Russia is a 140 million [population] country, which spreads from Europe all the way back to Alaska. It’s going to be very hard to resist that much,” he said.
Stakhovsky said the sanctions sports leagues and teams are hitting Russia with are important because Russian leader Vladimir Putin “takes pride in sport, he takes pride in Russia.”
“They’re always in the top three teams in the Olympics in winter or summer, and they spend billions of dollars on the sports industry. Of course, it will hurt him. It will hurt his personality. It will hurt his imperial logic that he cannot show the world his great Russian nation,” he said.
As Ukrainians answer the call, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is asking for those who are willing to join Ukraine’s desperate war to join his army, according to the Guardian.
“This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules and peaceful coexistence,” he said.
“Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals.”