The Ukrainian voiced her displeasure, and the WTA CEO responded.
By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday March 13, 2023
Lesia Tsurenko pulled out of her third-round match at the BNP Paribas Open, yielding to Aryna Sabalenka. A day later, the Ukrainian shared the fact that she suffered a panic attack after discussing participation of Russian and Belarusian players on the WTA Tour with CEO Steve Simon.
“A few days ago, I had a conversation with our WTA CEO, Steve Simon, and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard,” she posted in a tweet. “He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their own opinion and the opinion of other people should not upset me.”
Lesia Tsurenko told us she felt mentally bad for a few days and had a mental breakdown “after all the things I’ve heard. It was a panic attack, I had trouble breathing. A few days ago I had a conversation with Steve Simon, I was absolutely shocked by what I heard from him” 👇 pic.twitter.com/hZZJcNtWOA
— Ukrainian Tennis • BTU (@ukrtennis_eng) March 13, 2023
Tsurenko’s anguish is a painful reminder of the suffering that Ukrainian players are experiencing as they try to make sense of Russia’s brutal invasion of their country.
She’s not the only Ukrainian player that has been at the end of her wits since the war began last February.
“At the same time, he noted that if this had happened to him and he had been in my place he would have felt terrible,” Tsurenko said. “He expressed confidence that the Russians and Belarusians will return to the Olympics and said that it will happen exactly as it is happening now in tennis.”
The WTA released the following statement after Tsurenko made her remarks public:
“First and foremost, we acknowledge the emotions Lesia and all of our Ukrainian athletes have and continue to manage during this very difficult period of time. We are witnessing an ongoing horrific war that continues to bring unforeseen circumstances with far reaching consequences that are affecting the world, as well as the global WTA Tour and its members.
“The WTA has consistently reflected our full support for Ukraine and strongly condemn the actions that have been brought forth by the Russian government.
“With this, a fundamental principle of the WTA remains, which is ensuring that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination, and not penalised due to the decisions made by the leadership of their country.”