Jelena Ostapenko cited personal reasons for her withdrawal from the ASB Classic in Auckland and now the tennis star’s Instagram posts reveal that her father Jevgenijs has passed away. Sharing a number of childhood photos with her father, the Latvian informed us of his passing.
The 22-year-old’s emotional message to her dad reads:
I know that you were there since Day 1. Unfortunately, life can take away your loved ones… You realize what you miss the most when it’s not there anymore. So don’t hesitate on saying good words & spending time together while you can because nothing can be taken for granted. You will always be in my heart, dear dad. Love you forever!
Since Alona hasn’t been featured in my Little Tennis Stars series so far, I’ll add her now.
Ostapenko was introduced to tennis at the age of five by her mother Jelena Jakovleva. At about the same time, little Alona started dancing and she even competed in the National Latvian Championships for Ballroom Dancing. Before becoming a teenager, the Riga native decided to concentrate on tennis, but her dancing skills have contributed to her good coordination and footwork in tennis.
Up to now, Ostapenko has won three WTA titles, most importantly Roland Garros 2017, where she marched all the way to the title as an underdog. Her career-high ranking is No.5 in singles and No.22 in doubles.