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via Reuters

via Reuters

Is anything under the sun beyond the realm of politics in today’s world? Probably not. Political tensions and power plays affect possibly every sphere of life. Sports is no exception. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has, time and again, interfered with the world of sports. Perhaps most prominently in tennis. After Russia and its ally Belarus’ invasion of Ukraine last year, tennis players from the two nations had to face the music. Notably, players including Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka, and Victoria Azarenka were barred from participating at Wimbledon last year. The tensions among the players have been felt at the ongoing French Open as well when second-seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus took on Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.

Aryna Sabalenka reiterates her stand on the war

After easing past Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the first round of the French Open, Aryna Sabalenka was asked about her stance on the war as a Belarusian at the post-match press conference. She held her composure and replied, “About the war situation, I said it many, many times: Nobody in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, support the war… Why we have to go loud and say that things – this is like one plus one, it’s two. Of course, we don’t support war. If we could affect anyhow the war, if we could like stop it, we would do it.”

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Before the start of the match, Ukrainian Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Sabalenka and turned down the pre-match photoshoot as a mark of protest against Belarus’ involvement in the war on Ukraine. Kostyuk also avoided the customary handshake with her opponent after the match as she walked off the court after shaking the chair umpire’s hand. This prompted a lot of jeers towards Kostyuk from the crowd.

READ MORE: Belarusian Tennis Beauty Aryna Sabalenka Lets Off Steam With 42-Year-Old Boyfriend as the ‘Forever Young’ Couple Show Off Their Goofy Side at Roland Garros

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Kostyuk criticizes the French Open crowd for booing her

Marta Kostyuk’s actions of snubbing Sabalenka did not go well with the crowd at Court Philippe-Chatrier. A major portion of the crowd booed and jeered her until she left the court. Sabalenka initially mistook the crowd’s reaction to being aimed at her, but as they continued the booing when Kostyuk was on her way out of the arena, it was clear that their displeasure was meant for the Ukrainian. “I have to say I didn’t expect it … People should be honestly embarrassed, but this is not my call. I don’t know. I feel fine”, Kostyuk took a dig at the crowd at her post-match press conference.

via Reuters

It will be interesting to see whether Aryna Sabalenka can put all the off-court fuss behind her and focus on the tournament ahead, as she looks to win 2 Grand Slam titles on the trot.

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