(Indian Wells) “Of course there’s a lot of tension between us,” Belarusian world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka admitted on Friday about the relationship between players amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. and players from the three countries.
“But I remain convinced that I did nothing wrong to the Ukrainians – neither me nor the Russians”, defended the winner of the last Australian Open, after her victory at the expense of the Greek Maria Sakkari, for reach the WTA 1000 Finals in Indian Wells, California.
“None of us have any control over this situation. We all try to stay calm in the locker room… we all understand Ukrainians and we feel really bad for them,” she added.
And the tension escalated a notch this week, when a player from this country, Lesia Tsurenko forfeited just before meeting Sabalenka in the 3rd round.
Tsurenko then explained to the Ukrainian site Big Tennis, having suffered a “panic attack” after a conversation with the boss of the WTA about the consequences of the war in his country.
Poland’s world No.1 Iga Swiatek reacted, saying she understood Tsurenko. “Honestly, I respect Ukrainian women a lot, because if a bomb fell in my country or my house was destroyed, I don’t know if I could bear it.”
“No one can control the emotions of others. And I think the WTA is doing its best on that front to support both sides,” Sabalenka said, before going on to say, “Tsurenko’s withdrawal is not due to a panic attack or political situation “.
“I think there is something more. I found myself in a very difficult situation last year with his coach, because of the way he behaved with me. I think that guy put a lot of pressure on her, and that’s why it happened,” she continued, without giving further details on the alleged incident.
“I went through so many hard times, but unfortunately I can’t say, because after all, who’s going to believe the Belarusian girl? The more I talk, the better I stop,” Sabalenka concluded.