Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina says she feels “17 again” after being adopted as an honourary Frenchwoman ahead of her politically-charged quarterfinal clash against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at Roland Garros.
Appearing in her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother, the 28-year-old, who is married to French tennis showman Gael Monfils, has made the last eight in Paris for a fourth time.
That’s despite only returning to the tour in April following a year away from the sport on maternity leave after giving birth to the couple’s first child, daughter Skai.
With none of the 28 French singles players entered in the main draw getting beyond the second round this year, Svitolina is now the adopted darling of the crowd.
“People were cheering me on and it was getting more and more, and was really, really special. I didn’t expect that,” she said.
“I have been with Gael for over five years but I didn’t expect that it would come like this year.”
A former world No 3, Svitolina is now ranked at 192 but allowed to play at the French Open under a protected ranking.
She has battled into the quarterfinals by coming from a set down in both the second and third rounds.
With 17 titles to her name and over $21 million in prize money, Svitolina was always tipped as a Grand Slam title winner.