Australian Open 2024: Elina Svitolina column

In her first BBC Sport column at the Australian Open, Wimbledon semi-finalist and WTA star Elina Svitolina talks about how she and husband Gael Monfils – the French former world number six – had to delay their flights because their daughter Skai was ill.

As all parents know, when you have your own child you have to put other events on hold if they are sick. For a tennis player that might even mean tournaments.

At Christmas, Skai got sick and she had to go to emergency for six hours with me and Gael. She was not feeling good and got very sick.

So we had to push back our flight to Auckland, where we played before Melbourne. It was a quick decision to make and we were considering if she would come with us later.

These are the sort of things you would not think about when you don’t have a child. If a member of the team gets sick you just go anyway. Of course, it’s very different when it is your child.

We would not have come if she was any worse.

Thankfully in the end she got better very quickly and after two days she was feeling much better.

Because I was starting the season at the Auckland Classic, I had another five days between when we were in hospital and the flight to New Zealand so I had a little bit of time.

Health is the priority and for sure if there was a risk of her getting worse then we would not have brought her and she would have stayed home.

We were worried about her initially but she got better really quick with antibiotics. Then we got a green light for all of us to travel.

Actually, because of the warmer weather in New Zealand, it was more beneficial for her to recover there from the antibiotics.

It was the first time she got really sick and this is a new experience for us to deal with as parents.

But I’m happy we got through it and it is good we made the decision to bring her here. She is 100% now and it is a joy to have her here in Melbourne.

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