Tennis-Ukrainian tennis player Yastremska flees to safety in France

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FILE PHOTO: Tennis: US Open

By Rory Carroll

– Ukrainian tennis star Dayana Yastremska has fled her native country amid a Russian invasion and is now safe in France, the 21-year-old said in a social media post on Saturday.

Yastremska, who has won three WTA titles and been ranked as high as world number 21, said she left Odessa with her younger sister with help from their parents.

“Tired, but my sister and I are safe!” she posted on Saturday in an Instagram story, which showed their arrival in Romania en route to France.

“Thank you France. Ukraine stay strong. We miss you Home, Mum and Dad.”

On Friday an Instagram post from Yastremska showed her and her sister sitting on luggage and wearing matching pink sweatpants and hoodies.

“After spending two nights in the underground parking, my parents made a decision at any cost to send me and my little sister out of Ukraine!” she said in the Friday post.

“Mom, Dad, we love you very much, take care of yourself!!! I love you my country! Ukrainians take care of your lives.”

Ukraine is a force in women’s tennis. Three Ukrainians are in the WTA top 100 and seven are in the top 200. Elina Svitolina, who has also been outspoken in support for her country amid the invasion, is the highest ranked Ukrainian at world number 15.

Thousands of refugees fleeing the invasion poured across Ukraine’s western borders on Saturday, the third day of fighting, with many hoping to enter Poland, Slovakia, Romania or Hungary.

Russia’s assault is the biggest on a European state since World War Two and threatens to upend the continent’s post-Cold War order.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)