Former tennis star Sergei Stachowski takes up arms

Kyiv/Hamburg/SID – Sergej Stachowski marches past the anti-tank barriers onto the Maidan in Kyiv, the Kalashnikov firmly in hand. “I can’t say that I feel comfortable with the gun,” says the 36-year-old family man. But he leaves no doubt that he will defend his homeland “to the end”.

Stachowski was a tennis pro until January, failed to qualify at the Australian Open and then ended his career. He made it to number 31 in the world rankings and even took center stage in the sports world for a moment in 2013: He defeated the great Roger Federer in the second round of Wimbledon – a sensation.

Roger Federer reported to “soldier” Sergei Stachowski

Now Stakhovsky is at war and Federer is one of many tennis acquaintances who have written to him since he took up his post defending Ukraine against Russia. “He told me that he wanted peace soon and that he wanted to help Ukrainian children at home or in Switzerland with his foundation,” Stachowski told the AFP news agency. His life has changed since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

>>> All reports on the war in Ukraine

Stakhovsky was on holiday in Dubai with his wife and their eight, six and four-year-old children when Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade. “Despair,” “insecurity,” and “helplessness” swept through the veteran tennis pro, and he made the incredibly difficult decision to leave his family to stand up for his country.

“Leaving my children behind is not something I’m proud of,” says Stachowski. “I know that with regard to my family, being here is a mistake.” But being with his family and “not here would also be a mistake.” Error.”

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Sergei Stakhovsky defends Kyiv against Russian invasion

Dressed in army suit, he now patrols central Kiev as a Territorial Defense Volunteer to prevent infiltration by enemy forces – particularly near Volodymyr Zelensky’s presidential building.

The former fourth in the world rankings Andrei Medvedev, who triumphed three times at Rothenbaum in Hamburg and also in Stuttgart and was in the final of the French Open in 1999, as well as Alexander Dolgopolov, another former tennis professional, are in military service – several athletes from other sports are also added.

Everyone shares the hope that the suffering will soon come to an end. The Ukrainians are “hanging on,” said Stakhovsky, Kalashnikov in hand.