Gael Monfils’ grief as wife Elina Svitolina ‘cried every night’ amid Ukraine war

French tennis star Gael Monfils has said Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine has had a traumatic effect on wife Elina Svitolina, who was only recently "crying every night" out of fear for her home country.

Russian president Vladimir Putin began a large-scale military siege of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24. Invading forces have encroached over the latter's north, east and southern borders, although Ukraine is understood to have surprised its opponents in its ability to defend territories thus far.

Odessa-born Svitolina has used her eponymous foundation as a means to raise money in order to help fight back against the war. Other Ukrainian natives have returned to the country in order to take up arms in the fight, including tennis pro Serhiy Stakhovskiy, as well as boxing superstars Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk.

Monfils, 35, addressed the media after beating top seed Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 16 at Indian Wells, where he revealed the extent of his plight attempting to console his partner. "It's not easy to see my wife a couple of weeks ago crying every night," he told reporters.

"It was tough. Of course, I was, and I'm being there for her every day, for her, for the family. Quite a lot of family still there. It's tough to describe because I'm in it. I'm in it.

"But we try to manage it the best way that we can. And definitely for myself, you know, I try to be the shoulder, to be everything that she can lean on, and definitely to my second family, you know, I do anything for them to make them happy, safe, and everything that I can do."

Svitolina competed in California herself but suffered a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 upset at the hands of Londoner Harriet Dart in her tournament-opener. The 27-year-old recently took to Instagram and confirmed plans to donate prize money from her upcoming competitions to "support the army and humanitarian needs and help them to defend you, our country."

It's difficult to ascertain the exact number of Ukrainian casualties caused by the war. The United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday that 691 Ukrainian civilians were confirmed dead with another 1,143 wounded, though it added the true figures were likely to be "considerably higher."

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy more recently said peace talks were due to resume, with Russia's demands becoming "more realistic." “Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” he added in a video address. “Any war ends with an agreement.”

Meanwhile, around three million people have fled Ukraine in order to escape the war, with tennis prospect Dayana Yastremska—also from Odessa—having left her mother and father behind in the war-torn nation. Yastremska also announced her intention to donate prize money from upcoming tournaments in an effort to help fight the war.

Svitolina has around two months until she's expected to compete at the French Open, where she's advanced to the quarter-finals three times, more than any other major in her career to date. That being said, it's difficult to envision how one could properly prepare for competition while the current invasion of her home country continues.

Monfils will face 19th seed Carlos Alcaraz in the next round at Indian Wells, hoping to reach his first ATP Tour Masters 1000 final since he succumbed to Rafael Nadal at Monte Carlo in 2016.

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