WTA Responds to Swiatek & Tsurenko Criticism Over Russian Players

WTA Responds to Swiatek & Tsurenko Criticism Over Russian Players

by Zachary Wimer

Last updated

WTA CEO Steve Simon recently responded to concerns raised by world number one Iga Swiatek and Ukrainian player Lesia Tsurenko.

Both players called for stronger support and leadership within the tennis community to ensure fair and sensitive treatment for athletes affected by the conflict. Tsurenko criticized the organization's handling of the situation, particularly after Russia's Anastasia Potapova was seen wearing a Spartak Moscow shirt at Indian Wells. Swiatek suggested that firmer guidelines might have prevented such an incident from occurring.

In response to these criticisms, Simon asserted that the WTA is doing everything within its power to support players from Ukraine. He acknowledged the wide range of opinions on the matter, but emphasized the organization's commitment to its athletes. In an interview with BBC, Simon also condemned the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the actions of the Russian government.

"We continue to do as much as we have the ability to do. We have done a lot for our athletes, I know there's a variety of opinions on that out there. What's going on in Ukraine is reprehensible. You can't support it any way - nor what the Russian government is doing."

Speaking about the specific incident, for which the WTA warned Potapova, Simon expressed confidence that similar instances would not arise in the future.

"We spoke with Anastasia directly and also have given her a warning so she knows that this was not appropriate and I don't think we will see any further instances of this going forward."

As the crisis in Ukraine continues, Simon expressed the WTA's deepest sympathies for those affected, admitting that it is difficult to fully comprehend the challenges they face. He insisted that the WTA's actions in no way diminish the gravity of the situation.

"Our sympathies are at the highest level with everybody in Ukraine and I don't think any of us can properly understand what they are going through. I don't think that any of this is lessening what's going on over there."

In relation to Russian and Belarusian players, Simon highlighted the importance of maintaining open communication and ensuring that they understand the sensitivities surrounding the conflict. He also emphasized that these athletes are currently competing as neutral participants, which he believes is the appropriate approach.

"We continue to speak with [Russian and Belarusian players] and make sure they understand about the sensitivities here and that they are competing as neutral athletes. I think there is a strong understanding on that."

"We've always had the position - and it's been a fundamental position of the tour - that every player that is eligible should be allowed to play. And this is irrespective to decisions that may have been made by local governments. We've been consistent with that and we are going to stay consistent with that. We think that the neutral approach is appropriate."


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