Świątek and Radwańska thrill crowds with charity tennis match for Ukraine

Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

A crowd of over 10,000 watched an exhibition tennis match in the Tauron Arena in Krakow on Saturday in which Iga Swiatek played a charity match against the now retired great Polish player Agnieszka Radwanska in order to raise money for Ukrainian children affected by the war.

The income from this charity event - PLN 2 million (EUR 422,000) will be donated to the victims of the war in Ukraine.

"This is a very important issue for me. I never imagined that the war could be so close. I was born at a time when our part of Europe was quite peaceful," said Swiatek. Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

I noticed that at first interest in what was happening in Ukraine appeared in the tennis world, many players put on ribbons in the colours of this country. But with time it changed, the ribbons disappeared after two or three matches. My ribbon will remain," said Swiatek.  Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

"This is a very important issue for me. I never imagined that the war could be so close. I was born at a time when our part of Europe was quite peaceful. I noticed that at first interest in what was happening in Ukraine appeared in the tennis world, many players put on ribbons in the colours of this country. But with time it changed, the ribbons disappeared after two or three matches. My ribbon will remain. Many players do not want to comment on the war, I respect that, because everyone does as they see fit," said Swiatek.

Originally, Swiatek was to play the Ukrainian tennis star Elina Switolina, but she is expecting a child and acted as a referee during the match in Krakow. Due to this, Swiatek played the match against Agnieszka Radwanska, the Polish player who retired from professional tennis in 2018.

A bit unexpectedly the show set was won by Radwanska 6:4. After the match, the players were awarded a standing ovation.  Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

"It was a return to tennis for me after a few years. I would not have imagined that I would play a match with the best player in the world at home, in Krakow. But I did it only for this great initiative, not for my own career," said Radwańska  Łukasz Gągulski/PAP"It was a return to tennis for me after a few years. I would not have imagined that I would play a match with the best player in the world at home, in Krakow. But I did it only for this great initiative, not for my own career. When I received a call from Iga with the proposal there was no way I could refuse. Such events are probably the best way to help children from Ukraine who are left with nothing. We can hope that it will be a donation that will help them return to a normal life," said Radwanska.

The event began with a mixed doubles match with Radwanska partnered by the Ukrainian tennis player Serhij Stachowski and Swiatek teamed with Polish junior player Martyn Pawelski. This match ended with a 6:4 win to Swiatek and Pawelski.

Originally, Swiatek was to play the Ukrainian tennis star Elina Switolina (pictured), but she is expecting a child and acted as a referee during the match in Krakow.Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

The income from this charity event - PLN 2 million (EUR 422,000) will be donated to the victims of the war in Ukraine.Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

Shortly after, Swiatek and Radwanska took to the court for the main event of the day. A bit unexpectedly the show set was won by Radwanska 6:4. After the match, the players were awarded a standing ovation.

The event was also attended by Polish President Andrzej Duda who earlier in the day received the Olympic Gold Order in Krakow. The award was presented by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Club in the historic halls of the city's French Hotel.

The total income from ticket sales, PLN 2 million, will go to three organisations that have been instrumental in helping the most needy since the beginning of the war in Ukraine: United 24, UNICEF Polska and the Elina Switolina foundation.