They say to never meet your heroes ... but when your hero is Elina Svitolina, the old adage does not apply. Ukraine's top player recently surprised some of her country's most promising young talents at a tennis camp organized by her eponymous charity foundation.

The Elina Svitolina Foundation has hosted the camp for the last five years, where young Ukrainian talents receive on- and off-court training, and room and board, free of charge, to aid in a crucial time in their development. For the second year in a row, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the camp was held abroad; last year, it was held in Sozopol, Bulgaria, and this year, in Leszno, Poland.

"It is extremely important for us not to let this tradition be interrupted," Svitolina said ahead of the camp. "Even though the normal, calm, safe life of Ukrainians has been interrupted, it has ceased to be so for children as well. Many of them lost the opportunity to train as usual, changed their place of residence. … We want to support young athletes and inspire them for future victories.”

Per a social media post from BTU, a Ukrainian tennis news outlet, Svitolina's visit was kept secret and not announced on social media, leading to a heartwarming reaction from the youngsters when she arrived.


Svitolina, who's currently taking time off to rehab a foot injury, hasn't played since the US Open, but she was able to watch the young players train and interact with them on and off the court. A total of 20 players under the age of 12 spent 10 days, from Sept. 17 to 27, at the Hala Tenisowa Akwawit Leszno for the camp.

"I am extremely happy I had the chance to see them. I was impressed by their dedication," Svitolina said. "I want to thank everyone who's been donating to my foundation, giving Ukrainian tennis players the opportunity to continue playing tennis and pursue their dreams for the future."


Mykhailo Filima, Ukraine's Billie Jean King Cup captain, served as the camp's head coach, and the camp was held in partnership with Wilson, Adidas, and Setanta Sport.