Ukraine's Leonid Stanislavskyi: How world's oldest living tennis player is surviving Russian invasion 

The 97-year-old Ukrainian, who wishes to live till 100, has also survived the second world war.

Leonid Stanislavskyi in action at the court (Courtesy: ATP/Twitter)

Ukraine’s Leonid Stanislavsky, who holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest tennis player, has almost seen it all by 97. He survived the Second World War and is no stranger to military invasion. And even at the face of Russian invasion in his country, he is staying put at his home, and hopes to overcome the frightening situation to live till at least 100 years. His determination and will power is so strong that he denied his daughter’s offer to move to Poland in these testing times. 

“I hope I live to reach 100. I have to survive this frightening situation,” he told Reuters.

“The war started on (February) 24th. From the 24th till now I have practically not gone out. I’ve stayed at home… I have supplies, the fridge is full. I’m sitting at home, not going anywhere,” he said.

“My daughter Tanya is in Poland, she wants to take me there. But I decided to stay here. I have bad hearing so I sleep at night and don’t hear anything. Last night there were bombings, in the morning there were air-raid sirens again.”

Stanislavskyi worked as an engineer who helped build Soviet warplanes to fight the Nazis during the Second World War. But, little did he knew, that he would have to face another similar frightening situation in his life and only hopes that sense prevails at the end to stop the war. 

“I never thought that I would have to live through another, more frightening war where people from both sides are dying — mothers are losing their children, wives are losing their sons and their husbands,” he added.

“What is this? What good is it? In the 21st century there can’t be war. The war needs to be stopped, an agreement has to be reached.”

READ MORE: Sergiy Stakhovsky: Ex-Ukraine ace joins military reserve in wake of Russian attack 

Leonid Stanislavskyi’s first encounter with Rafael Nadal

Only four months ago, the Ukrainian shared the court with 21-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal. He also dreams of taking on Swiss maestro Roger Federer someday on the court. 

It was at 30 when he was introduced to the sport for the first time and trained at least three times a day for his love for the game. 

“Tennis is my life, my destiny. I’ve played tennis at a serious level since I was 90, I’ve played abroad, I’ve played in World Championships, I’ve played in the European Championships.”

“I’m not afraid of anyone… I’m hoping that the war will end and I will be able to play tennis. If I could get (to Poland) I would play there. But I decided to stay at home and wait for the end of the war,” he said.

The end of the Russia-Ukraine conflict will also mean that Stanislavskyi can resume playing tennis all over again and can appear at the next seniors World Championships, in Florida next month.

Sportslumo Desk

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