Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsVideosScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

Popular This Week

Net Notes - A Tennis Now Blog

Net Posts

Industry Insider - A Tennis Now Blog

Industry Insider

Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

Second Serve


Sabalenka: Attitudes on Players from Warring Nations Unchanged

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Wimbledon will lift its ban on Russian and Belarusian players next month.

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka said attitude toward Russian and Belarusian players remains unchanged. Sabalenka said while she's pleased by WTA support of permitting Russians and Belarusians to play, she feels extreme emotional reaction remains.

More: Madrid Mutes Women's Doubles

"The ones who was hating us before, I don't know, our country, for where we're from, they still hate us," Sabalenka told the media in Rome in her pre-tournament presser. "This didn't change and I don't think it's going to change because of the situation.

"I'm happy that we are allowed playing, that WTA doing everything they can to kind of handle this situation as good as they can. Yeah, that's it."

Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine last year and continues to bomb the nation. 

Ukrainian standout Elina Svitolina has blasted the WTA response to the war in Ukraine as "useless."

"The WTA should have done more, much more, on many issues," Svitolina told L'Equipe in an interview last month. "Now it's too late.

"There have been a lot of press releases, a lot of interviews. It was useless."

Australian Open champion Sabalenka said players are not politicians and should not pay the price for their leaders' actions.

"It's the war. It's not like yesterday they hate us, today they love us, no," Sabalenka said. "It is how it is. Unfortunately we have zero control on this situation.

"Yeah, that's the worse, that people expect something from us, and we cannot do anything. That's the bad thing about the situation."

Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from Indian Wells prior to her scheduled match vs. Aryna Sabalenka in March. Tsurenko said on social media she suffered a panic attack after talking to WTA CEO Steve Simon.  

“A few days ago, I had a conversation with our WTA CEO, Steve Simon, and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard,” Tsurenko posted on Twitter. “He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their own opinion and the opinion of other people should not upset me.”

Tsurenko’s anguish is a reminder of the daily pain Ukrainian players endure as their nation remains under brutal attack.

"What is happening to Lesia [Tsurenko] is very sad," Svitolina told L'Equipe. People who haven't experienced it can't really understand what it feels like to have no home, to feel safe nowhere, to have family in Ukraine, under the bombs, to know that Ukrainian cities are being destroyed.

"It's both fear and a great emptiness."

Photo credit: Getty