Reigning Australian Open champion, Aryna Sabalenka, opened up about the surprising levels of animosity she has encountered on the WTA Tour.
The world number two candidly shared her experiences during a media day event at the prestigious Miami Open, after contesting the final in Indian Wells only a few days ago. Sabalenka revealed that the locker room tensions between Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian players had been particularly challenging for her.
“It was really, really tough for me because I’ve never faced that much hate in the locker room. Of course, there are a lot of haters on Instagram when you’re losing the matches, but like in the locker room, I’ve never faced that.”
The 24-year-old expressed her bewilderment at being targeted by others and she went on to explain that the hostility she faced extended beyond her fellow players to their team members as well.
“It was really tough for me to understand that there’s so many people who really hate me for no reason, like no reason. I mean, like I did nothing. I had some, not like fights, but I had some weird conversations with, not the girls, but with members of their team. It was really, it was tough. It was tough period. But, now it’s getting better.”
Despite the challenging environment, Sabalenka has shown resilience and an unwavering commitment to her sport. She shared her optimism that the situation is gradually improving.
“I was really struggling with that because I really felt bad, like I did something and it’s still not so good in the locker room with some of the Ukrainian girls. But then I realised that it’s not my fault and I did nothing bad to them. And I’m pretty sure that the rest of the Russian and Belarusian athletes did nothing to Ukrainians.”
“I just realized that this is all emotions and I just need to like ignore it and focus on myself with understanding that I did nothing bad. And I cannot control emotions of others. It seems like, everyone’s just ignoring each other.”