As he approaches triple figures, Leonid Stanislavskyi has decided to remain in his homeland despite the frightening attacks.
The impressive 97-year-old holds the Guinness world record for being the oldest tennis player alive. And while many would have hung up their rackets decades before, the nonagenarian still plays professionally in the ITF’s senior category tournaments, as reported by Reuters.
But now Stanislavskyi is facing another challenge; trying to survive to reach his 100th birthday. He’s already lived through WWII — he was 15 when the war started. He then went on to become an engineer building Soviet war planes. And now he has a strong, and wise, opinion about the current conflict:
What is this? What good is it? In the 21st century there can’t be war. The war needs to be stopped, an agreement has to be reached. I never thought that I would have to live through another, more frightening war where people from both sides are dying — mothers are losing their children, wives are losing their sons and their husbands.”
The usually active senior has remained at home for most of the time since the war started, explaining:
“The war started on (February) 24. From the 24th till now, I have practically not gone out. I’ve stayed at home… I have supplies, the fridge is full. I’m sitting at home, not going anywhere.”
Although his daughter offered to take him with her to Poland, Stanislavskyi rejected the offer, sharing:
“She wants to take me there. But I decided to stay here. I have bad hearing, so I sleep at night and don’t hear anything. Last night there were bombings, in the morning there were air-raid sirens again.“
While he may be stuck at home, the tennis star is hoping to get back to the courts soon:
“Tennis is my life, my destiny. I’ve played tennis at a serious level since I was 90, I’ve played abroad, I’ve played in World Championships, I’ve played in the European Championships. I’m not afraid of anyone … I’m hoping that the war will end and I will be able to play tennis.”
The avid player has previously managed to have his dream come true when tennis ace Rafael Nadal invited him to play with him at his academy in Mallorca, and now Stanislavskyi hopes to play with another tennis champ, Roger Federer.
While Stanislavskyi’s tennis skills are no doubt impressive, his desire to embrace life is perhaps even more inspiring:
“I hope I live to reach 100. I have to survive this frightening situation.”
We pray that he can soon live out his golden years in peace, and have his dreams fulfilled.