It’s been nine years since Sergiy Stakhovsky knocked out Roger Federer at Wimbledon in a seismic shock on Center Court.
This weekend, Stakhovsky is 2,500km from London, dressed in fatigues rather than tennis white.
The 36-year-old is armed and desperately fighting to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine.
“This was us before… Now this is our @Wimbledon… Last night 62 rockets were launched attacking different cities in Ukraine… #stoprussia #boycottrussia #helpukraine @TheDolgo,” tweeted Stakhovsky.
In his tweeted photographs, Stakhovsky is seen shaking hands with Federer after his victory in 2013.
Also pictured is fellow Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov after his match against Federer at Wimbledon in 2017.
Both men are retired from tennis; both are now in the army.
Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, has banned all Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tournament.
This ruled out men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev and eighth-placed Andrey Rublev.
On the women’s side, three of the top 20 are missing – Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina and two-time major winner and former number one Victoria Azarenka.
– Prohibition ‘not fair’ –
Stakhovsky wants Russians banned from all sports.
However, six-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic thinks that would be a step too far.
“I just don’t see how they contributed to anything really happening. I don’t think it’s fair,” Djokovic said, adding that Russians and Belarusians would be allowed to play under neutral flags. .
That’s what happens on the ATP and WTA tours week in and week out.
When Wimbledon announced its ban, both tours retaliated by depriving the tournament of ranking points.
“As for the ATP response, I didn’t really agree with that. I just don’t see who it helps,” said two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.
“All the players still showed up to play here, so I don’t see how that puts the ATP in a stronger position going forward.”
In a separate move, Wimbledon said it would provide tournament tickets to Ukrainian refugees living in local areas of south-west London.
All England club officials will also donate £250,000 (290,000 euros/$306,000) to the refugee charity.
This humanitarian gesture, however, did not soften Nick Kyrgios’ belief that the ban was misguided.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to ban Russian players. Medvedev is the best we have in our sport right now,” said the Australian player.
“Anytime we have cameras on and a lot of people tuning in, you want our best players to be on display for the sport to grow.
“I’m disappointed they’re not here. It’s weird not seeing Medvedev here.”
American superstar Serena Williams chose to avoid controversy.
“Another heavy topic that involves a lot of politics, from what I understand, and government. I’m going to walk away from that,” said the seven-time Wimbledon champion.
Despite the official ban, there are still many Russian-born players who compete at Wimbledon.
Alexander Bublik was born in Gatchina and Mikhail Kukushkin is from Volgograd but they represent Kazakhstan.
Yulia Putintseva and Elena Rybakina also play for Kazakhstan despite being born in Moscow.
A player has circumvented the Russia-Belarus ban with a last-minute change.
The 29-year-old Moscow-born doubles player Natela Dzalamidze changed her nationality from Russian to Georgian last week and will compete in women’s doubles at Wimbledon with Serbian Aleksandra Krunic.