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Why tennis players, fans hated Aryna Sabalenka in 2022

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Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka. Photo/tennis.com
  • Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka has spoken of deep hate in 2022
  • Players and fans alike castigated her over Russia Ukraine war
  • It was tough for her but she is not better than in 2022

Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka and Australian Open champion has spoken about the hate she gets because of her country’s role in helping Russia invade Ukraine.

She says that she had never witnessed such bile in the locker room until February 2022 when Russian tanks invaded Ukraine with the help of Belarus.

Sabalenka while addressing the press at the Miami Open preview said she was subjected to strange conversations and the hate was too much.

“It was really tough for me because I’ve never faced that much hate in the locker room,” she maintained. There are a lot of haters on Instagram when you’re losing matches, but in the locker room I’ve never faced that.”

aryna sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka. Photo/tennis.com

The hardest part for her was understanding the root cause of the hate people projected to her yet she had done nothing wrong. Dealing with all this bile for the last one year is the hardest thing in her tennis career yet.

However, things are changing and she is getting better as the hate tones down now that people understand she had no role in her what her country did.

Tennis is the sport that has likely seen the most strain from the war due to the frequent competition between Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian players.

Despite being prohibited from competing under their nation’s flag, a number of Ukrainian players on the tour remain unsatisfied.

Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine withdrew from her match against Sabalenka at Indian Wells last week due to a panic episode she experienced following a conversation with Steve Simon, the WTA CEO.

On the other hand, Anastasia Potapova of Russia received a formal warning for competing while wearing a Spartak Moscow shirt.

Government restrictions prevented Russian players from participating in the British grass-court season, Wimbledon last summer.

As a result, Wimbledon lost all of its ranking points and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) was hit with huge six-figure fines by the ATP and WTA.

The ATP and WTA fined the LTA $1 million and warned that a repeat of this will trigger a ban from the tour.

Andrei Rublev criticised Wimbledon’s decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus as “total discrimination” and said it made no sense. Serbian player Novak Djokovic termed Wimbledon’s move crazy adding that he would never support such.

ATP reacts to Russian and Belarusian players Wimbledon ban

Belarus’s Aryna Sabalenka. Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Despite all these challenges in 2022, Sabalenka rebounded in 2023 with an Australian Open win. Sabalenka says she won the first Grand Slam of the year because of her focus.

Speaking in Dubai at the pre-tournament press conference, Sabalenka said that there is so much to gain by staying focused and the Melbourne win is a perfect example.

“I would like to just focus on myself because I think the only thing why I won Australian Open is because I was focusing on myself,” Sabalenka said.

By default, there are more expectations of her since her Australian Open win. However, she is not letting the pressure of expectations get to her.

Her first Grand Slam victory changed her mindset to some extent but she is aware that the end result depends on how hard she works.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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