MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The Bush Tennis Center is a state-of-the-art facility known for its world class training but also for the incredible story of the people who back it.

One of those people high on the list is Elina Svitolina, boasting 15 WTA titles and even beating out Serena Williams in the 2020 summer Olympics. She’s a pro-tennis player that’s made a big impact in Midland.

“We always try to bring in positive role models to the center,” says Tim Stallard, executive director at the Bush Tennis facility. “Someone of Elina’s stature here at the center helping our kids, is an experience they will hold with them for a lifetime.”

Elina visited the Bush Tennis Center back in 2018. She helped kids perfect their tennis technique while also participating in some fun activities on and off the court. She says her trip to West Texas made a lasting impact and forged a newfound friendship with Tim and the center that will always hold a special place in her heart.

Elina’s work not only makes a difference at the Bush Tennis Center but overseas as well. She’s from a small port city in Ukraine that has endured some of the toughest conditions since the start of the country’s war with Russia.

“For me it’s heartbreaking to see everyday people suffering that much,” Elina explained. “These days it’s become even worse, people are without water, without electricity, they are really suffering.”

Putting her tennis career on hold, Elina decided to embark on a mission to help her country and use her platform to provide hope to the war-torn nation. She has worked non-stop to help the refugees and kids fleeing Ukraine find new homes across Europe.

“I want to give them the opportunity to continue playing tennis and to continue dreaming.”

The love she has for her country is now being channeled through a foundation of her own. The “Elina Svitolina Foundation” was created as a way to provide children the ability to learn life lessons through the sport of tennis. The foundation also offers kids housing, training gear, and practice sessions all in an effort to provide them with everything they would normally have back home.

Elina is also an ambassador for United24, an organization set up by the president of Ukraine, who recognized her ability to unite the sporting community. She recognizes the importance of providing people with updated information on what’s really going on throughout the country.

In the midst of adversity came a gift of joy, Elina and her husband recently welcomed their baby girl into the world.

“It’s been unbelievable, we’ve been enjoying our time so much with her especially with everything I’ve been dealing with back in Ukraine. To finally meet our daughter and hold her in our arms has been a really special moment for us.”

Although returning to the sport isn’t in the cards for Elina just yet, her love for tennis remains strong with her eyes set on the 2024 Olympic games in Paris. After taking the necessary time to nurture and raise her newborn, Elina says she’ll be back on the court fighting for the kids who one day hope to play in the big leagues just like her.