At French Open, Sabalenka of Belarus refuses to answer questions about war in Ukraine

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) Aryna Sabalenka, a Belarusian tennis player seeded No. 2 at the French Open, declined to answer questions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after she won a match on Wednesday.

After her first-round win Sunday, Sabalenka had said no Russian or Belarusian athletes support the war, but she was asked Wednesday to personally condemn Belarus' role in supporting Russia's invasion.

“I've got no comments to you,” the Australian Open champion said in a press conference after her 7-5, 6-2 victory over Iryna Shymanovich in the second round at the Grand Slam tournament.

Sabalenka’s first-round opponent, Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, had urged reporters to ask the 25-year-old Sabalenka if she personally supports or opposes the war.

Sabalenka was asked - in the context of potentially becoming the world's No. 1 player - about whether she supports Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

“I have no comments to you, so thank you for your question,” she replied.

Next was the question about Belarus’ role in the war.

When a third question was posed, the moderator stepped in, and Sabalenka added: “You’ve got enough answers from me, and I’ve got no comments to you.”

On Sunday, Kostyuk had refused to shake hands with Sabalenka after their match on Court Philippe Chatrier.

After that match, Sabalenka said: “Nobody in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, support the war. Nobody. How can we support the war? Nobody - normal people - will never support it."

In Kostyuk's subsequent press conference, the Ukrainian said Sabalenka “never says that she personally doesn’t support this war.”

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Updated May 31, 2023