Swiatek asks for more support for Ukrainian players
World No. 1 Iga Swiatek has revealed that there’s a lot of tension after the WTA chief executive’s comments regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Indian Wells is one of the best tennis events on the calendar and the favorite tournament for some players outside the four majors.
The great atmosphere that surrounds the Californian tournament, though, has been sullied by a recent controversy involving the WTA chief executive, Steve Simon, and some players.
One of them, the Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, withdrew from her match against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka this week after a panic attack following a discussion with Simon about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, admitting being “shocked” by Simon’s answers about the subject.
Iga Swiatek admitted after defeating Emma Raducanu that “there’s a lot of tension in the locker room”.
“Obviously, it’s going to be there because there is a war. But maybe it would be a little bit less if the WTA put some action at the beginning to kind of explain to everybody what is right and what is not”, she added.
Swiatek, the face of the Ukrainian support
The Polish superstar, who has won 12 WTA titles so far, also wanted to show her support for Tsurenko and asked for more help for Ukrainian players.
“I totally understand why she [Tsurenko] withdrew. I respect the Ukrainian girls so much because if a bomb landed in my country or if my home was destroyed, I don’t know if I could handle that”.
“We should focus more on helping Ukrainian players and providing them with everything they need. They have to take care of like all their families, and there’s a lot of baggage on their shoulders”, Swiatek said.
The three-major winner also talked about Russian player Anastasia Potapova for wearing a Spartak Moscow soccer jersey before her match against American Jessica Pegula.
“To be honest, I was surprised. I thought the player realized that she should not, even if she is a fan of the team, show her views in this way at such times”, she admitted.
Former Ukrainian player Alexandr Dolgopolov, who joined the Ukrainian army during the conflict, praised Swiatek’s words about Potapova.
“It’s no doubt Iga Swiatek understands all the nonsense that’s going on around and shows empathy and [a] huge example for others”, he wrote on social media.
Swiatek, who plays Sorana Cirstea in the quarter-finals, will try to become champion in Indian Wells for a second consecutive year after defeating Maria Sakkari in two sets in the tournament’s 2022 final.
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