"I hope I live to reach 100," says the World's Oldest Tennis Player in Ukraine

Abhi Thakur

Amidst the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, a 97-year-old man, Leonid Stanislavskyi, dubbed as the world's oldest tennis player, hopes to reach 100.

Leonid Stanislavskyi(Photo by ITF)

His country is engaged in serious conflict with the Russian forces but that doesn't petrify this Ukrainian. Just four months ago, his dreams came true when he played against the 21-times Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal. He had also hoped to play against Roger Federer but this ongoing war has had him change his wish.

Leonid Stanislavsky now wishes to survive. "I hope I live to reach 100. I have to survive this frightening situation," he said.

"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 a 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."

Leonid Stanislavsky, who holds the Guinness World Record as the world's oldest tennis player, was a survivor of World War and worked as an engineer. He helped the Soviets build warplanes to fight against the Nazis.

"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."

He was 30 when he was introduced to tennis and used to train three times a week. For him, an end to the war would mean the chance to play tennis again - possible at the next senior's World Championships, in Florida next month.

"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.

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