Ukrainian tennis player Vladyslav Orlov’s mother Olena opened up about the nightmare the country is experiencing due to the Russian invasion, revealing that it has been very tough for her and her son to navigate through the tennis tour during this tumultuous time.

Orlov, ranked World No. 387 at the moment, played at the ATP Challenger Chennai Open this week, where he took on Russia’s Alibek Kachmazov in the second round of qualifiers. In a match garnering a lot of media interest due to the respective nationalities of the opponents, Kachmazov ended up prevailing in straight sets to reach the main draw.

Despite the loss, Orlov and his mother were happy to speak to the media afterwards, hoping to raise more awareness about the kind of situation Ukraine is in, almost a year since the beginning of the war.

Olena Ludina, who also doubles as her son’s coach and physio when the need arises, spoke about where she was from Ukraine, also touching on how the Russian military has been bombing hospitals, schools and “everything” in the country. With things as bad as they are, Ludina admitted that sleep has been tough to come by for her, regardless of how far away she is from her home.

“On east of Ukraine, on the border with Russia. 30-40 kilometers near Russia. Very tough [to be with my son during all this]. Last night, I didn’t sleep. Because very, very tough. Every day,” she said. “The bombing, rockets, missiles, [they are] destroying buildings, hospitals, schools. Everything. It’s very tough.”

But now, with winter approaching, Ludina warned that circumstances are about to go from bad to worse, pointing to how her family has been living without heat and water for a long time until very recently.

“No heat, no water, but just now I spoke with my mom, and our family lives near [sic], and today, for the first day, there is heat and water,” she said. “But now, it is winter in Ukraine, last week temperature was minus 15-20 degrees. That’s very cold and they lived without heating. It’s terrible.”

Ludina was also graceful enough to speak about her own past, revealing that she was a professional table tennis player back in the day, even becoming an Under-16 champion in the USSR. She is also a general physician, who has now taken on the role of a sports doctor for her son Orlov.

Praising her son for being a being a better tennis player than she was as a table tennis pro, Olena Ludina also spoke about how she decided she had to support the 27-year-old after he won the M25 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Osijek, Croatia last year — the biggest title of his career yet.

“I played table tennis. I was a professional table tennis player. And I’m a doctor too. I do what i can do. Now. I think, I’m like a sports doctor. He’s better than I used to be at table tennis. I was champion too, but under 16, in the USSR. I was not a champion of international tournaments, just domestic.”

“When the first time came to him, for tournament in Croatia last year and he won, I decided I have to support him. Before that, he lost, lost, lost, lost, didn’t sleep, didn’t practice, didn’t everything,” she added.

Orlov has added three more ITF titles to his name since, taking his tally up to eight.

“Thank you to all the countries around the world who support Ukraine, who support Ukraine in many different ways” – Ukrainian tennis player Vladyslav Orlov’s mother Olena

Olena Ludina went on to reveal that she was in Ukraine when the war started, talking about how hearing the bombing noises from her apartment felt chilling. Having managed to get out of the country, Olena also touched on how the war brought everyday life in Ukraine to a standstill.

“I was in Ukraine when the war started. Okay. I hear [bombing noises] in our apartment, it was very, very, very tough. I was in Kharkiv in November. Trains stopped. No electricity. Red alarms, every hour. It’s terrible,” she said.

Finally, Olena and her son Vladyslav Orlov conveyed their thanks to all the countries who are supporting Ukraine in many different ways, adding that they would have lost the war already if not for these acts of support.

“Thank you so much. Thank you to all the countries around the world who support Ukraine, who support Ukraine in many different ways,” she said, with help from her son Orlov. “Thank you so much because without this support and without weapons, without medicine, without just supporting everything, we would have lost this war already. It’s important, you know, we are still fighting.”

“You know, Ukraine now beats a lot of weapons. Russian weapons. A lot. You don’t understand. It’s thousands and thousands of vehicles, tanks, aircrafts. It’s amazing. And they have a lot,” she added.