Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk insists she "does not hate" Aryna Sabalenka but just has a problem with the Belarusian tennis star's position in the Russia-Ukraine war. On Sunday, Kostyuk exited the French Open after suffering a straight-set first-round loss to Sabalenka.
After the match was over, Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Sabalenka, which prompted the crowd to boo the Ukrainian off the court. "She said that I hate her. I never said publicly nor privately nor to anyone that I hate Aryna Sabalenka or any of the players.
I just don't respect her because of her position in all of -- in this [Russia-Ukraine war]. I don't know why it's a difficult situation for her. Since the beginning of the war, all of them have very difficult situation, and I don't understand what is difficult about it, you know? She might be World No 1 after this tournament, and she's going to be World No 1 in one of the most known sports in the world.
I don't know. If you check the statistics in Russia, who support the war or who don't, in Russia there is 80 percent or 85 percent of people who support this war. Just by speaking out, I think she can just send some message because most of these people, they haven't even ever left the country.
They don't even know how people live there. I tell you, there is a big difference how people live in US and how people live in Russia," Kostyuk said, per Sportskeeda.
Kostyuk: Sabalenka never says she personally doesn't support this war
Whenever Sabalenka was asked about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she would say she was "for peace all over the world." After beating Kostyuk, Sabalenka reiterated her message and directly said that she was against the war.
But Kostyuk feels in reality that's not the case. Also, Kostyuk suggested to journalists they might need to construct their questions differently to Russian and Belarusian players. "She never says that she personally doesn't support this war, and I feel like journalists should, because you guys do a lot of work on lightening things and asking people their opinions on certain things, and I feel like you should change the questions that you ask these athletes because the war is already there.
It's been 15 months since the war has begun. I feel like you should ask these players who would they want the war to win because if you ask this question, I'm not so sure these people will say that they want Ukraine to win," Kostyuk said.
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