(Miami Gardens) Belarusian world number two Aryna Sabalenka lamented Tuesday that she has faced “hatred” from some Ukrainians on the world circuit since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022.

“It was really, really hard for me, because I had never faced so much hate in the locker room,” she said Tuesday in Miami, on the sidelines of the WTA tournament, in response to a question. about what she described as “tensions” between her and Ukrainian players.

“Obviously on Instagram there are a lot of people hating you as soon as you lose games, but what I went through in the locker room, I had never faced that,” she continued.

“We didn’t fight, but we had some weird conversations, not with the girls, but with the people around them. Really it was a tough time, but now it’s better, “said the Belarusian champion, who has the right to compete on the world circuit but under a neutral banner, as well as Russian athletes.

“I had a hard time understanding that there are so many people who hate me for no reason, no reason. I mean, I didn’t do anything,” insisted the Australian Open winner.

In Indian Wells last week, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko withdrew rather than face Sabalenka, saying she had a “panic attack” following a conversation with the president and CEO of the WTA Steve Simon, who was trying to justify the fact that Russians and Belarusians were not excluded from the circuit.

Sabalenka says she is better now: “I realized it wasn’t my fault and I didn’t hurt them. And I’m sure the other Russian and Belarusian athletes didn’t do anything to the Ukrainians either.”

“I just realized that these are all emotions and I have to ignore them, focus on myself. […] I can’t control other people’s emotions,” she explained.