Victoria Azarenka has deleted her social media accounts after breaking down in tears during her match against Elina Rybakina on Monday. The 32-year-old Belarusian had expressed her devastation at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on social media and had been playing at Indian Wells under a neutral flag.
Victoria Azarenka has deleted her social media accounts after she broke down in tears during her third round match against Elina Rybakina at Indian Wells.
The Belarusian, who was playing under a neutral flag due to sanctions against Russia and Belarus, lost the first set 6-3 before she squatted down and burst into tears while she was serving at 2-2 in the second set. She said to the chair umpire: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
Rybakina walked to the net to check if her opponent was OK at the same time the chair umpire approached her.
The two-time Australian Open champion eventually recovered and held her serve, but lost the match 6-3 6-4.
Ahead of the tournament, Azarenka said she was “devastated” by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I am devastated by the actions that have taken place over the last several days – against – and in Ukraine,” the former world No. 1 wrote on Twitter.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how many innocent people have been affected and continue to be affected by such violence. Since my early childhood, I have always seen and experienced Ukrainian and Belarusian people, as well as both nations, friendly and supportive of one another.
“It is hard to witness the violent separation that is currently taking place instead of supporting and finding compassion for each other.
“My heart is with everyone directly and indirectly impacted by this war that is causing such pain and suffering for so many. I hope and wish for peace and an end to the war.”
Tennis’ governing bodies the ATP, WTA and ITF have taken sanctions against Russia and Belarus, including banning them from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup. Russian and Belarusian players have been able to play on tour as ‘neutral athletes’.
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief Steve Simon said players should not be banned from tournaments because of politics.