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  • "I’ve never faced that much hate" - Aryna Sabalenka bewildered by locker room attitude towards Russians & Belarusians amidst Ukraine war
Aryna Sabalenka reveals bitterness for Russians and Belarusians in the locker room

"I’ve never faced that much hate" - Aryna Sabalenka bewildered by locker room attitude towards Russians & Belarusians amidst Ukraine war

Echoing Iga Swiatek's recent words, Aryna Sabalenka has revealed that all is not well in the WTA locker rooms. She stated that amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine, players from Russia and Belarus have been subject to unnecessary "hate" by their colleagues.

The ongoing war has had major repercussions in the tennis world, with the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club) prohibiting Russian and Belarusian players from participating in the 2022 Wimbledon Championships. The decision forced the ATP and WTA to cancel ranking points at the prestigious tournament, along with imposing a fine of £1.4 million.


At the 2023 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko withdrew before her match against Sabalenka of Belarus, citing an uncomfortable conversation with an official regarding the war.

Recently speaking to the press at the 2023 Miami Open, the reigning Australian Open champion remarked that while she was used to online hate from fans, she didn't understand why a few players were doing the same.

“It was really, really tough for me because I’ve never faced that much hate in the locker room," Sabalenka said. “Of course, there are a lot of haters on Instagram when you’re losing the matches, but in the locker room, I’ve never faced that."

The World No. 2 added that after initially getting bothered by others' behavior, she realized that she didn't need to worry about it since she had nothing to do with the situation.

"It was really tough for me to understand that there are so many people who really hate me for no reason," the Indian Wells runner-up said. "I did nothing. At the beginning, I was really struggling because I really felt bad, like I did something and it’s still not so good in the locker room with some of the Ukrainian girls.
"But then I realized that it’s not my fault and I did nothing bad to them. And I’m pretty sure that the rest of the Russian and Belarusian athletes did nothing to Ukrainians. I just realized that this is all emotions and I just need to ignore it and focus on myself with understanding that I did nothing bad. I cannot control emotions of others.”

Some of the girls are really aggressive against us: Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka during the 2023 BNP Paribas Open

Addressing the media in Miami, Aryna Sabalenka remarked that she has had confrontations with the coaching staff of some players in the past. The 24-year-old added that she was maintaining distance from those who were "aggressive" against the Russians and Belarusians.

“I had some, not like fights, but I had some weird conversations with, not the girls, but with members of their team,” Aryna Sabalenka said. “It was a tough period. But now, it’s getting better. I’m still talking to some of the Ukrainians, but there are some of the girls who are really aggressive against us. So, I’m just staying away from that.”

After losing to Elena Rybakina in the 2023 Indian Wells final, Aryna Sabalenka has received a bye in the first round of the Miami Open. She will face either Sloane Stephens or Shelby Rogers in the second round.

Edited by
Sudeshna Banerjee
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