Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has spilled from the battlefield onto center court, with tennis star Marta Kostyuk accusing Russian players of caring more about their earnings than the attack on her home country.
After a first-round win over Maryna Zanevska at the BNP Paribas Open, Kostyuk told reporters in Indian Wells on Thursday that she was shocked by the reaction of Russian players to the invasion of Ukraine.
“What is very disappointing is that no Russian player came to see me,” the 19-year-old said.
“None have told me they’re sorry for what their country is doing to mine.
“One player messaged me, another chatted with me, but I didn’t hear any apologies, I didn’t hear anyone telling me they didn’t support what was going on. To me, that’s shocking.
“You don’t have to be involved in politics to behave like a human being. Everyone knows what’s going on.
“It hurts me. It hurts me every time I arrive at the stadium and see all these Russian players.
“Their only problem right now is not being able to make money transfers. That’s what they’re talking about. This is unacceptable in my opinion.”
Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to continue playing tennis in individual events, provided they do so under a neutral flag.
Calling for a ban
Kostyuk strongly implied she would support a ban on players from those countries, saying: “I do not agree with the decisions that have been made. I will be concise: look at other sports. Look what they decided. That’s all.”
Kostyuk and Ukrainian-born Belgian Zanevska shared an emotional embrace after the former clinched victory in an encounter lasting more than three hours.
“Maryna is a former Ukrainian player, she changed her nationality a few years ago,” said Kostyuk.
“Her parents are in Ukraine, in a quieter area. Everyone is afraid. At the end of the match, I told her that she had played incredible and that everything was going to be okay, that our parents were going to be okay.”
Russian and Belarusian players have been vocal in calling for peace but have pointedly stopped short of explicitly condemning the actions of their countries.
That also drew condemnation from Kostyuk, who said: “You don’t need to be involved in politics to know what’s going on, who’s invaded who, who’s bombing who. It’s very simple. You can’t be neutral in this situation.”