World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka has implied that she has faced abuse for being from Belarus.
Belarus have rendered aid to Russia in their invasion, according to observers, and this saw players from both countries banned from Wimbledon last year.
Sabalenka got a walkover win in her scheduled match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, who withdrew after suffering a panic attack.
WTA Tour Chairman Steve Simon has been slammed for his role in precipitating Tsurenko’s panic attack.
Tsurenko revealed that it was a conversation with the women’s tour boss that led to her suffering said event.
The Australian Open winner added that it is unfair to hold tennis players to blame for the actions of their state leaders.
“Well, listen, nobody can control emotions of others, you know. And I think WTA are doing their best to kind of control it,” Sabalenka told a press conference at Indian Wells.
“Yeah, of course it’s a lot of tension between us. I mean, I’m still have this belief that I did nothing bad to Ukrainians; not me, not Russian athletes, not Belarusian athletes, not one of us did something bad. Even some of us are like helping.
“So what else I can say? I think WTA are doing really great job to support both sides, and whatever — I mean, I cannot control their emotions. I was through so many bad things, and unfortunately, I’m not able to say that because who gonna believe Belarusian girl.”
An increasingly agitated Sabalenka suggested that she had been subjected to abuse from players overs her nationality.
“I mean, talking about her coach,” she said
“I have been through also through hell, and I understand that… I don’t know. The more I’m talking, the better I just stop. I think there is something more. I had really tough situation last year with her coach the way he act to me.
“So I think that guy put so much pressure on her, and that’s why that
happen. It’s nothing to do with WTA. I mean, they are doing their best job. What they can do? Nobody of us have this control in this situation.
“All of us just trying to, you know, keep the calmest in the locker room and keep understanding that there is no our fault and that all of us understand Ukrainians, and we really feel bad for them, you know. That’s it. I think I said a lot.”
Sabalenka will face Russian-born Kazakhstan No 1 Elina Rybakina in the Indian Wells Open final on Sunday.