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Ex tennis star leaves vacation with family to fight the war in Ukraine

Sergiy Stakhovsky, who retired just weeks ago, left his family in their home in Hungary to join the fight against the Russians in his home country.


Sergiy Stakhovsky, a former professional tennis player was on vacation in Dubai with his wife and three children, when he heard the news of the Russian attacks in Ukraine. He is a member of the army reserves and made the difficult decision to go back to his home country and defend the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, leaving his family in their home in Hungary.

36-year-old Stakhovsky played tennis professionally for 18 years before retiring at the Australian Open this year. He was enjoying his new retirement and vacationing with his family a week ago. Now, he is in Kyiv, fighting amongst other civilian soldiers.

Guilty if I stay, guilty if I go

It was an extremely tough decision for Stakhovsky, who said there is “no right decision.” “If I would stay home, I'd feel guilt that I didn't come back, and now I'm here, I feel guilty that I left them at home."

Stakhovsky’s children are all under seven years old, and he and his wife made the decision not to tell them where he has gone. He expects they will figure it out, but it is a tough call deciding whether to tell young children a truth that could frighten and worry them or to try to protect them from it. His wife is, unsurprisingly, struggling with the decision. Stakhovsky said she feels betrayed even though she understands his reasons for going.

Ukraine training civilians in basic shooting

The Ukrainian government has called on all men between 18 and 60 years of age to come and help fight against the Russian invasion. Stakhovsky is just one of several Ukrainian athletes who have come to Ukraine to help. Others include FC Sheiff Tiraspol manager Yuriy Vernydub and champion boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

"I'm not sure there's one individual who's ready to tell you now whether he's ready to sacrifice life. I want to see my kids ... I want to see my wife, that's my goal," he said. "If a missile comes into the house, is that sacrificing your life? No. It's just being killed." 


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