(London) Belarusian tennis player and world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka warned reporters on Saturday that she would refuse to answer any political questions including the Russian invasion of Ukraine or her ties to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
At Roland-Garros, the player had “dried off”, with the agreement of the organizers, two post-match press conferences after being questioned several times on the subject.
“Before continuing, I would like to tell you that I will not talk about politics,” the 25-year-old announced at the pre-tournament press conference.
“I’m here to talk about tennis only. Please respect that. If you have any political questions, you can ask the WTA or the [tournament organizers], they will send you transcripts of my answers from previous tournaments,” she added.
Like all Russian and Belarusian players, Sabalenka was banned from Wimbledon in 2002. This year, the ban was lifted, but they all had to sign a declaration of neutrality and cannot wear their countries’ colors under any circumstances. form.
They also had to prove that they are not supported by any state authority and do not receive any funding from companies targeted by international sanctions because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Asked about the reception she expects to receive from the London public, Sabalenka said she “expects nothing”. “I just hope they support me like they have for years past. That’s all,” she said.
Semi-finalist in 2021, Sabalenka is one of the three favorites with world number one Iga Swiatek, who has never made it past the knockout stages at Wimbledon, and holder Elena Rybakina, who has been battling a viral infection since Roland -Garros.
“I’m pretty sure if I can play my best tennis I can do really well at Wimbledon,” she only conceded.