Aryna Sabalenka insists she feels no hatred toward Marta Kostyuk ahead of their French Open first-round meeting and also added there is nothing she can change if the Ukrainian cannot stand her. Kostyuk has been very outspoken since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, claiming multiple times that there are many Russian and Belarusian players who support the regimes of their respective governments.
In March, top-ranked Belarusian tennis star Sabalenka said "I have never before faced that much hate in the locker room." Also, Sabalenka claimed at the time that some Ukrainian players were acting "aggressively" toward her.
"If she hates me, OK. I can't do anything about that. There are going to be people who love me; there are going to be people who hate me. If she hates me, I don't feel anything like that to her," Sabalenka said, per AFP.
Sabalenka on Kostyuk likely refusing to shake her hand
Kostyuk hasn't been shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players for quite some time.
Sabalenka doesn't expect that to change when she and Kostyuk meet at Roland Garros. "If I could I would stop the war. And about the no shaking, I can kind of understand them. Like I imagine if they're going to shake hands with Russians and Belarusians, then they're gonna get so many messages from their home countries.
So I kind of understand why they are not doing it. At the same time, I feel like sports shouldn't be in politics. Like we're just athletes. If they feel good with no shaking hands, I'm happy with that," Sabalenka said. After Sabalenka said she was facing so much hate, Kostyuk responded.
"I might not say 'Hi' to some players, but I never approached anyone. Maybe I myself spread hate just by being there. I don't know when people come out with that. But obviously there is tension - we're not friends. We are at war at the moment," Kostyuk told The Daily Mail in late March.
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