Ukrainian tennis star Lesia Tsurenko said she supports Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian players from this year’s tournament.
He stance comes after she claims she was met with “silence” from Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion of her home country.
The lack of support, or even any form of communication, from players she considered as close friends has left Tsurenko heartbroken.
The Ukrainian advanced to the third round of the prestigious tournament thanks to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over her fellow compatriot Anhelina Kalinina.
It's understood both women were given an exemption to break the strict all-white dress code to wear Ukraine pins.
And given the awful situation unfolding back in their homeland, it was an emotionally-charged occasion as the duo were both given a warm welcome by the Wimbledon crowd.
It was Tsurenko who came out on top in the match, but she immediately turned her attention to a far bigger issue while speaking during her press conference.
“It’s just a step,” she said of the ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
“It’s a good step to show that that’s what we all have to do. I am Ukrainian. There is no other opinion in my head.”
When news broke of the ban, fans and players alike were split with some throwing their support behind it while others claimed Russians and Belarusians were being unfairly treated.
Tsurenko, to her own admission, initially fell in the latter group of people – that was until her Russian and Belarusian friends in the tennis community went quiet and failed to reach out a hand in this time of need.
She said: “I would be the first one to say that, no, you should not ban them. But I have heard only from one Belarusian player and from one Russian player, who talked to me personally and told me: ‘I’m against the war.’
“I have heard one Belarusian and one Russian player. I did not hear anything from any other player.
“So for me, the silence means… I mean, it’s not good when… I don’t know. I thought I had a lot of friends on tour, especially from Russians and Belarusians.”
While some high-profile Russian athletes in other sports have condemned the invasion of Ukraine, it seems some of tennis' biggest stars haven't exactly followed suit.
One person who has voiced their concerns with the ban is top-ranked men's tennis player Novak Djokovic, who called it "crazy" a few months back.
"Boycotting is too aggressive," Djokovic said.
"There are a couple of solutions that are better than that and we can aim for those. But after talking to players who are involved in the discussions with Wimbledon it seems like there's not much wiggle room."
Featured Image Credit: BBC/Alamy
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