Tennis: Exclusive-Tennis-It’s like we do not exist, says Ukrainian Kostyuk

PARIS (Reuters) – Kiev-born Marta Kostyuk criticised the WTA gamers’ council on Tuesday for failing to seek the advice of Ukrainian gamers on the choice to strip Wimbledon of rating factors, and branded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka’s place among the many council members “ridiculous”.

The males’s and girls’s tennis governing our bodies final week took away rating factors from the grasscourt Grand Slam after its organisers determined to exclude gamers from Russia and Belarus within the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ranking factors decide a participant’s means to enter occasions and obtain seedings, so stripping them from Wimbledon successfully reduces the occasion to an exhibition event.

The council, which is made up of present gamers who act as a voice for athletes on tour with the governing physique, supported the WTA’s determination to strip rating factors from Wimbledon, with American member Sloane Stephens saying that the choice was not “taken lightly”.

The 19-year-old Kostyuk, nonetheless, mentioned she absolutely supported Wimbledon’s determination to not enable gamers from Russia and Belarus to compete.

“I’d say 80-85% of the gamers had nothing to do with the (WTA) determination,” she instructed Reuters in an interview after her first-round defeat to Mayar Sherif within the French Open on Tuesday. “It’s so ridiculous I could not consider it.

“None of the gamers’ representatives contacted me. None of them requested about my opinion, what I believe. It’s like Ukrainian gamers do not exist.

“I’ve been attempting to be as vocal as potential however you’re feeling hopeless more often than not in regards to the state of affairs. I’m nonetheless 19. What can I say? It’s not straightforward.”

When requested whether or not the council did sufficient generally to achieve out to gamers, American Jessica Pegula, one other member of the physique, mentioned emails to rivals had been typically missed however that the council members had been “all the time out there”.

Russia and Belarus are banned from tennis workforce competitions following the invasion however their gamers are allowed to compete as neutrals. Belarus has been a key staging space for the invasion, which Russia calls a ‘particular operation’.

‘IT’S RIDICULOUS’

Men’s world primary Novak Djokovic and 21-times main champion Rafa Nadal have each criticised Wimbledon’s stand.

“I would like my fellow gamers to assist and perceive the state of affairs and be vocal on some issues as effectively,” mentioned Kostyuk, thanking Poland’s world primary Iga Swiatek for her assist for Ukraine.

“But I imply, have a look at what Rafa mentioned, have a look at what Novak mentioned. How are you able to get the assist from the tour when high three gamers say this stuff?

“Victoria Azarenka is within the gamers’ board, making selections about factors in Wimbledon, the place she’s not even taking part. And saying that she has no private curiosity in making selections. Just the truth that she’s current there on the calls, doing no matter. It’s ridiculous.”

Two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka is without doubt one of the eight members on the WTA participant council and mentioned on Monday that her function on the council was to attempt to “discover a compromise, as a result of lots of gamers are affected.”

Kostyuk, who has managed to get her household out of Ukraine, mentioned her psychological well being has suffered because of the “nightmare” and he or she presently works with two psychologists.

She walked off in the course of her doubles match with companion Elena-Gabriela Ruse within the Italian Open this month towards the Russian pair of Veronika Kudermetova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

“I began crying on love-three,” mentioned Kostyuk, who’s ranked 66th on the planet. “Before the match, I used to be actually pumped, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna win and after I went on court docket, I felt so bizarre.

“I began crying and I began speaking to my coaches. I mentioned I can’t be right here, I do not know why I’m taking part in. I’ve to win to be heard, however I do not as a result of there are different issues on the opposite facet, which I’m dealing with. So lots of strain round.

“Suddenly there have been means larger issues in life than tennis. I do not assume lots of people confronted what I’ve been dealing with.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; modifying by Toby Davis)

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