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The 21-year-old tennis player plays under the Armenian flag. Has Russia lost another star?

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 04:51:55

The grass season began with not very pleasant news. Before the battles at Roland Garros ended, it became known that 21-year-old Russian tennis player Elina Avanesyan decided to change her sports citizenship. Avanesyan, born in Pyatigorsk, decided to play for the Armenian national team. This was learned from the words of the deputy director of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia, Karen Giloyan.

“Yes, Elina Avanesyan will compete under the Armenian flag. We hope that the athlete receives Armenian citizenship so that everything is official,” Armenpress quotes Giloyan.

At the same time, the official emphasized that Armenia is not going to steal Russian athletes. “If there are such athletes and our colleagues from Russia do not care, we will start this process. For us it is very important that the change of citizenship is based on the principle of interaction between the parties. We are not going to rob anyone. When our colleagues from Russia give their agreement, in this case we will take measures regarding this or that athlete,” Metaratings quotes Giloyan.

Elina Avanesyan at Roland Garros 2024

Photo: Getty Images

It is curious that in April of this year Elina said that she was not even thinking about changing her citizenship. Answering a journalist’s question, was there any idea on the eve of the Olympics to move to another team, since Avanesyan is not even close to being in Russia’s top 4 in the WTA rankings (not to mention the fact that the situation with admission to the Games is still unclear), the tennis player assured that there is no doubt about it. “Nothing like this has happened yet. This is not thought about or discussed,” Sport Express quotes.

It turns out that Elina decided not to reveal her cards at that time or her plans really changed in the last two months. In fact, if Russian tennis players are allowed to participate in the Olympic Games, the last of the classification to go to the Games will be 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva, the 23rd-ranked racket player in the world. Avanesyan, even after Roland Garros, is only 78th in the WTA rankings: what kind of Olympic Games are those?

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How did the tennis world react?

18-time USSR tennis champion and commentator Anna Dmitrieva suggested that Avanesyan, playing for Armenia, would be the master of the situation. “I think it has to do with the feeling of freedom. If Avanesyan plays for Armenia, he will be the master of the situation. And whether he starts to defend the colors of Russia, he will depend on various circumstances. Furthermore, Elina’s father and mother are Armenians,” Vprognoze.ru quotes Dmitrieva.

1995 Davis Cup finalist Andrei Chesnokov admitted that he was sad about this news, but was happy for Armenia. “He has good prospects in tennis. Yes, it’s a loss. It’s always sad when players change citizenship; for example, Alexander Shevchenko. In the current situation, with sanctions and constant oxygen cuts, the best that can happen is for the player to perform without obstacles. Armenia will get a good tennis player. I will be very happy for them,” Match TV quotes Chesnokov.

Elina Avanesyan in Paris during Roland Garros 2024

Photo: from the personal archive of Elina Avanesyan.

In 2023, Ararat Avanesyan, Elina’s father, said he wouldn’t mind if his daughter started playing for the national team of her historic homeland. In the early 1990s, Avanesyan and his wife moved to Pyatigorsk from Nagorno-Karabakh. Three children have already been born in Russia (Elina has a brother and a sister).

“Unfortunately, the world is not as calm as we would like. And all this also affects sport. Of course, it would be great to play for Armenia, I would be very happy. But now Elina is old enough and makes many decisions herself. If she makes that decision, of course we will support her.

We have visited Armenia many times with our family. We also went to Karabakh to show our children our homeland. When she was a junior, Elina played many ITF tournaments in Yerevan, in which she won four times, first and second place. We have four presidential cups at home, of which we are especially proud,” the Armenian publication Sportball24 quotes Avanesyan.

Elina Avanesyan with her father Ararat

Photo: from the personal archive of Elina Avanesyan.

What is Avanesyan known for?

At Roland Garros 2023, 20-year-old Elina sensationally reached the fourth round. In the first round, Avanesyan, as a lucky loser, defeated Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Belinda Bencic. And in the round of 16 she was stopped by Karolina Muchova, who subsequently reached the final.

At the 2024 Australian Open, Elina beat a representative of the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in her career. In the second round she defeated Maria Sakkari. At the recently completed Roland Garros, the athlete repeated her personal best from last year. In the fourth round, Avanesyan again gave way to the future finalist, who this time turned out to be Yasmin Paolini. She but she still does not have any title at the WTA level.

Who else moved from Russia to other teams?

Many tennis players related to Russia play in Kazakhstan. The main star of the national team is, of course, Moscow’s Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon 2022 champion. But all these transitions have nothing to do with the current situation, since they took place even before the Russians were prohibited from flying their flag. With one exception: world number 59, Alexander Shevchenko, husband of Russian tennis player Anastasia Potapova, ranked 35th in the WTA rankings, swapped Russia for Kazakhstan at the start of the 2024 season.

Alexander Shevchenko at the 2024 Madrid Masters

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Varvara Gracheva’s transfer to the French national team in 2023 is a special case. The tennis player has repeatedly said that she made the right decision long before the suspension situation, but at the same time she said that it was a “political choice.”

“The decision to play for France changed a lot in my life. I have the support of the French Federation and the public, who have accepted me. This is a political election, but I thought I wouldn’t be accepted here because of my background. Work and life have become easier and more enjoyable. Wine, cheese, champagne – that’s life!” – quotes Gracheva’s words spoken during Roland Garros, RMC Sport.

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In one of the press conferences during the tournament, Varvara added: “I made this decision when my mental coach asked me in 2018 if I wanted to be French. I answered yes. I didn’t know the benefits, but I decided to do it. If you approach the process carefully, it will take a long time.

It wasn’t easy for me because I didn’t play in the Billie Jean King Cup. But then he took all the necessary steps to start the process. “I love France and I want to live in France as a French woman.”

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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