WTA CEO Simon Under Fire After Tsurenko's Panic Attack Revelation Following Russia Comments

WTA CEO Simon Under Fire After Tsurenko's Panic Attack Revelation Following Russia Comments

by Jamie Malachy

Last updated

Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko has recently revealed that she was left "shocked" by comments from the WTA's chief executive Steve Simon regarding his organisation's policy towards Russian and Belarusian players, in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Tsurenko had been due to play Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka at this week's tournament in Indian Wells, but withdrew at the last minute, citing a deterioration of her mental health that resulted in a panic attack, which happened after her conversation with Steve Simon.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with our WTA CEO Steve Simon, and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard. He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me. At the same time, he noted that if this had happened to him and he had been in my place, he would have felt terrible.

Tsurenko speaking to the 'Big Tennis Ukraine' website.

He expressed confidence that the Russians and Belarusians will return to the Olympics and said that it will happen exactly as it is happening now in tennis. He also said that fair play and Olympic principles were not violated, but on the contrary. When asked if he understood what he was saying to me during the active phase of Russia’s military aggression in my country he said yes, and this was his opinion.

Tsurenko was left shocked by Simon's support for Russian and Belarusian participation

I was completely shocked by this conversation, and already in the last match (against Donna Vekic) it was incredibly difficult to play. When it was time to go to the court, I had a panic attack and I simply could not go out there. I just broke down mentally, to be honest.

The WTA have since been approached for comment by various members of the press, as several Ukrainian players call for his position to be reviewed.


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