Indian Wells: Tsurenko suffered a sudden “panic attack” that led to her withdrawal from the match against Belarusian Sabalenka
Ukrainian Lesya Tsurenko admitted that her sudden withdrawal from the Indian Wells Millennium Tennis Tournament was due to a panic attack she had suffered shortly before she faced Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion earlier this year.
Tsurenko told Big Tennis of Ukraine she was overwhelmed days after she was “shocked” by a conversation with WTA CEO Steve Simon in which they discussed ongoing tensions in the game as a result of Russia’s invasion of her country.
Tsurenko explained why she did not enter the stadium to play her match against Sabalenka in the third round as a “panic attack”, saying that “officially it will be written that what happened is due to” personal reasons “, but in reality it was breathing problems, and it can be said that it was hysteria.”
More than a year after Russia, backed by its ally Belarus, invaded Ukraine, the tennis world continues to grapple with the effects of the war on the sport. Russian and Belarusian players are banned from competing under their national flags by the ATP and WTA players’ associations, although confrontations can take place on the field.
Earlier this month, English media reported that the ban imposed by Wimbledon on Russian and Belarusian players last year is likely to be lifted at this year’s edition.
“A few days ago, I had a conversation with Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA, and I was shocked by what I heard,” Tsurenko told BTU.
And she added, “He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their opinion, and I should not be bothered by the opinion of others.”
Tsurenko stressed that the conversation led her and other Ukrainian players to question Simon’s position, and they requested a conference call with the WTA board “to ask how Steve Simon could be in charge of the WTA and what we should do about it.”
“WTA” responded to Tsurenko’s statements with a statement on Monday, March 13, 2023, most notably, “The WTA continues to reflect its full support for Ukraine and strongly condemns the measures taken by the Russian government…” and “Nevertheless, the basic principle of the WTA remains It is to ensure that individual athletes can participate in professional racket events on the basis of merit and without any form of discrimination, and that they are not penalized for decisions made by their country’s leadership.”