'Not Black And White': Swiatek On Nadal's Controversial Decision Tied To Saudi Arabia

'Not Black And White': Swiatek On Nadal's Controversial Decision Tied To Saudi Arabia

by Zachary Wimer

Rafael Nadal was recently announced as the tennis ambassador for the Saudi Arabian Tennis Federation, and Iga Swiatek was asked about it since it was perceived as a "controversial" move.

There are a lot of people harboring rather negative views of Saudi Arabia due to its history and policies. They've been quite interested in sports in recent years and are investing heavily in various kinds of sports.

Tennis is obviously not immune to this, and the country is slowly entering it with the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals being held in Jeddah. There were also two high-profile exhibition matches recently featuring some of the best players in the world, such as Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and others.

We also heard reports of the country possibly hosting the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in 2025, and having a high-profile player as an ambassador for the sport would help that.

Enter Rafael Nadal, who was appointed the new ambassador for tennis in the country, which he was glad to accept. Nadal is grateful to have the chance to grow the sport in the country, which has expressed much interest in it.

The news didn't go down with most tennis fans who are very against any kind of involvement from the country in tennis. Due to the controversial nature of the move, Swiatek was asked about it in Melbourne at the 2024 Australian Open, where she comptes.

"Honestly, I didn't know that this is the case. Well, for sure I feel like it's not black and white, everything that's going on, in the sport. It's hard for me to sum up in one sentence." 

She didn't say much about the topic, but she did say that things aren't probably as black and white as they seem to be portrayed.

"There were a lot of rumors about WTA Finals going to Saudi. We're still waiting for the decision. It was always hard for me to say if it's good or not because it's not easy for women in these areas."

The reason why Swiatek was asked is because she grew up idolizing Nadal, and obviously, as a woman and as the top WTA player, her opinion matters.

"Obviously these countries also want to change and improve politically and sociologically. It's not easy to decide. Also in terms of many events that were held, there were rumors about sportswashing. In my case, because I have nothing to do with Rafa and his decisions, it should be up to the federations and the governing bodies who decide if we're going to play there or not."

She further clarified her stance on the matter of playing or not in Saudi Arabia, saying that every move should be evaluated.

"If there would be some negative backlash, they should take the responsibility. For me it's hard to straightforwardly go one way and say anything. I didn't even know about Rafa's decision."

"Obviously men's sport is already there in Saudi. I don't know if it's a good decision or not. I'm kind of trying not to be too up front."


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