Ukrainian tennis player turned resistance fighter Sergiy Stakhovsky has backed Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players.

Stakhovsky retired from tennis earlier this year and left his home and family in Hungary to join the reserve forces in Kyiv.

He has recently been to Kharkiv and Bucha and seen some of the most horrific atrocities during the conflict with Russia.

He told the Mail on Sunday: “I hope it hasn’t changed me but I feel perhaps more numb or raw.

"Those images are going to stay with me for a long period, but I hope I am going to be able to give them up some time.

“At first there was fear but it’s strange how you can get used to war, you can get used to everything.

"You know a rocket can land anywhere in the country.

“I played some tennis in Kharkiv and I could hear bombs exploding. That was different. Professional tennis seems ages away now. It is surreal.”

Stakhovsky’s most memorable achievement during a career that peaked at 31 in the rankings came in 2013 when he defeated Roger Federer in the second round at Wimbledon.

The reaction from within tennis to the decision by Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association to bar Russian and Belarusian players from events in Britain this summer has been overwhelmingly negative.

The ATP and WTA are holding meetings to decide how to respond, with the removal of ranking points a possibility.

But Stakhovsky has offered his support, saying: “I cannot say it was a joyful reaction but it is something I believe should be done.

“In the first two weeks of the war I was more laid back about it, thinking that every individual should be judged based on their stance, but we know how the Russian troops are behaving in the occupied cities.

"We know what they can do: slaughter, rape, torture. So, I’m sorry, I now have a different view.”

A number of Ukrainian players and former players including Stakhovsky have criticised their Russian and Belarusians counterparts for not speaking out against the actions of their countries.

“You cannot be neutral,” he said.

“If they are scared about financial repercussions or spending a night in jail, well, I’m sorry, that is still better than a rocket landing on your doorstep.”