‘She Never Wears a Hat’- Aryna Sabalenka’s Resilience Amid Heart-Breaking Tragedy Hailed by Retired WTA Legend

Published 04/02/2024, 2:23 PM EDT

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While the Sunshine Double 2024 will be remembered for the brilliant performances, Aryna Sabalenka‘s tragedy will be equally unforgettable. On March 18th, her ex-boyfriend, 42-year-old NHL ice hockey player from Belarus, Konstantin Koltsov passed away after jumping from the balcony of his room in a luxury resort in Miami. Because of the tragic loss, Sabalenka was understandably heartbroken and shocked but decided to compete in the Miami Open.

It was a brave decision, supported by most of the tennis community. And yet, no one could imagine what must be going through Sabalenka’s mind through this tragedy. Serena Williams’ ex-coach, Rennae Stubbs, and former German player Andrea Petkovic engaged in a discussion about Sabalneka’s mindset, sympathizing with her.

‘That would have to weighed on her mind’ – Rennae Stubbs


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Talking on her podcast titled the Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast, about Sabalenka’s mental state, Stubbs says, “It’s crazy because you have no control over what somebody does uhm but that would have to weighed on her mind there’s no question, and it’s just a tough week for her,” acknowledging the gravity of the tragedy.


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Petkovic echoes, “It was super tough and she was wearing the hat, she never wears the hat,” stating that the Belarusian was visibly disturbed. Talking about Sabalenka’s difficulty, Petkovic points out that such situations are difficult to handle as being a pro tennis player such news enters the public domain and there is hardly any escape.

She goes on to state that probably Aryna Sabalenka’s decision to honor her Miami Open commitment was also driven by the fact that she needed some kind of protection. Which she could only find on the tennis court as she would not have to think about the tragedy and just be in the moment and do what she loved.

A devastated Sabalenka found some comfort in her colleagues and the tennis world gathering around her to ease her pain. Returning to social media, the world No. 2 thanked her fans for their “love and support.”

‘I am so grateful for you all’ – Aryna Sabalenka

“I want to take a moment to say thank you to all my fans for your outpouring [of] love and support during this difficult time,” wrote Sabalenka on her Instagram story as a ‘thank you’ note to her fans.


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This is the Bellarusian’s second statement after the news of the tragedy broke out as. Despite her decision to play at the Miami Open, she refrained from interacting with the media throughout and only made a sole statement acknowledging the news through her publicist.

Sabalenka further wrote, “Your kind words mean so much and I carry them with me every day. I am so grateful for you all.” In her first statement, Sabalenka had made it clear that although they weren’t in a relationship anymore, she was heartbroken by the news and had requested privacy.


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Anticipation builds as the 2024 Australian Open champion gears up to return to the court at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, commencing her spring clay-court campaign. Starting April 15th, this WTA 500 event holds significance for her, having reached the finals in each of the last three years.


Written by:

Anubhav Bhandari


One take at a time

Anubhav Bhandari is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, Anubhav skillfully arranges words to craft intriguing lines and weaves diverse sentences into compelling stories. Blending his sporting experience with storytelling prowess, he produces articles that resonate with readers.
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Edited by:

Arunima Bhanot