Ex-tennis star leaves holiday with family to fight war in Ukraine

Sergiy Stakhovsky, a former professional tennis player was vacationing in Dubai with his wife and three children, when he heard the news of the Russian bombings in Ukraine. He is a member of the army reserves and made the difficult decision to return to his home country and defend the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, leaving his family at their home in Hungary.

Stakhovsky, 36, played tennis professionally for 18 years before retiring at the Australian Open this year. He was enjoying his new retirement and vacationing with his family a week ago. Now he is in Kiev, fighting among other civilian soldiers.

Guilty if I stay, guilty if I leave

It was an extremely difficult decision for Stakhovsky, who said there was “no right decision”. “If I stayed home I would feel guilty for not coming back, and now that I’m here I feel guilty for leaving them at home.”

Stakhovsky’s children are all under seven, and he and his wife made the decision not to tell them where he went. He expects them to find out, but it’s hard to decide whether to tell young children a truth that might scare and worry them or try to shield them from it. His wife is, unsurprisingly, grappling with the decision. Stakhovsky said she felt betrayed even though she understood his reasons for leaving.

Ukraine trains civilians in basic shooting

The Ukrainian government has called on all men between the ages of 18 and 60 to come and help fight the Russian invasion. Stakhovsky is just one of many Ukrainian athletes who have come to Ukraine to help. Others include FC Sheiff Tiraspol manager Yuri Vernydub and champion boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Vasily Lomachenko.

“I’m not sure there is a single individual who is ready to tell you right now if he is ready to sacrifice his life. I want to see my children…I want to see my wife, that’s my goal “, did he declare. “If a missile enters the house, does it sacrifice your life? No. It’s just being killed.”

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