Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko had a panic attack before Aryna Sabalenka’s match and says it was triggered by comments made by WTA CEO Steve Simon. On Sunday, Tsurenko was scheduled to play Belarusian tennis star Sabalenka in the third round at Indian Wells.
But Tsurenko withdrew from the match, and the reason for his withdrawal was mentioned as personal. In an interview with Ukrainian means BTUTsurenko claims that WTA CEO Simon told her that he is against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also told her that she should not be upset if Russian or Belarusian players support her government.
«A few days ago I had a conversation with our WTA CEO Steve Simon and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard. He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players in Russia and Belarus support it, then this is just your own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not bother me.
At the same time, he noted that if this happened to him and he was in my place, he would feel terrible,» Tsurenko told BTU.
Tsurenko: I was surprised by Simon’s comments.
«I was absolutely shocked by this conversation, and already in the last game [against Donna Vekic] it was unbelievably hard to play, hard to be together and today when it was time to go to court I had a panic attack and just couldn’t go.
I really hope I can digest all this information and be more prepared for the next tournament. We request a conference call with the WTA Board of Directors to raise the question of how a man like Steve Simon can be a leader in the WTA and what can we do about it.
How can we better understand that our organization somehow protects our rights? I just don’t understand how it happened in this world that such things need to be explained. This is very surprising and very painful,» Tsurenko said.
Last year, Ukrainian players wanted the ATP and WTA to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete only after they publicly condemned the actions of the Russian and Belarusian governments. The ATP and WTA refused to go that route as the Russian and Belarusian players have been competing for the past year as neutrals.