A little more than a week ago, Dayana Yastremska was sheltering with her family in an underground location in Odessa, Ukraine. Today, with her country’s now-ubiquitous blue-and-yellow flag draped over her back, she accepted the runner-up trophy after losing a close final to Shuai Zhang in Lyon.

In January, Sergiy Stakhovsky was playing the final match of his two-decade tennis career in the Australian Open qualifying tournament. Today, the Ukrainian-born father of three, who had never served in the military before, is carrying a machine gun and defending his country in Kiev.

Last month, Moscow native Andrey Rublev was trying to do nothing more than win his second straight ATP event, in Dubai. After his semifinal victory, he was inspired to scrawl three English words—“No War Please”—across a camera lens, a gesture that quickly went viral and hailed for its bravery and concise good sense.

These are the types of the head-spinning life changes that Vladimir Putin’s invasion has created in the short time since he ordered it on February 24. Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina has played on in support of her country, while trying not to be overwhelmed with worry about her family back home. Daniil Medvedev became the first player outside the Big Four—Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray—to hold the ATP’s No. 1 ranking in 18 years, an extraordinary accomplishment. But the Russian said it was difficult to work himself into a celebratory mood.

“It’s a huge honor to take over this spot,” Medvedev wrote on Twitter. “I’m sure everyone can understand it comes with mixed emotions that it happens this week.”

Tennis prides itself on being a sport of individuals, not nations, and of taking a citizen-of-the-world viewpoint on current events. In the days immediately after the invasion began, that view remained intact. Rublev, Medvedev and their fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova called for peace. Iga Swiatek of neighboring Poland dedicated her victory in Doha to the people of Ukraine. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, whose government sides with Russia, said she was “devastated.”

“It’s hard to witness the violent separation that is currently taking place instead of supporting and finding compassion for each other,” Vika said.

For Svitolina, though, there was no way she couldn’t take a stand against the invading nations. She demanded that Russian and Belarusian players compete under neutral colors in ATP and WTA events.

At first I was leery of this step. As Svitolina herself said, the Russian pros had nothing to do with the invasion. And while it’s true that tennis players compete as individuals, that doesn’t mean they don’t take pride—especially if they’re from smaller countries—in representing their compatriots on a world stage.

But Svitolina’s stipulation was met, and when she faced Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in Monterrey, Potapova’s name appeared without a flag next to it. For me, this didn’t feel like a punishment of Potapova; it was clear, at least in my mind, that the move was aimed at Russia and Putin. Svitolina’s demand, and the tennis worldview—that athletes are individuals first—felt vindicated.

If the conflict drags on in Ukraine, there will likely be more conflict in tennis. This week Eva Lys, a German player who was born in Kiev, said that Russian players at a recent ITF event had showed “disrespect to those affected by the Ukraine war.” Hopefully, respect for players from both countries continues to be the norm from fans around the world.

So far, though, we can say that when war came to tennis, the sport’s professionals responded with bravery on both sides.

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