French Open lets Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka skip commonplace information convention after questions on Ukraine warfare


Two years after Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open when she was fined, then threatened with disqualification, for skipping information conferences, one other high tennis participant — No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion — was allowed to keep away from the normal postmatch session open to all accredited journalists and as a substitute communicate Friday with what was described as a “pool” of chosen questioners.

Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka reacts throughout her third spherical match in opposition to Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova(REUTERS)

Sabalenka, who’s from Belarus, did not seem at a information convention Friday after reaching the fourth spherical at Roland Garros for the primary time with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Kamilla Rakhimova. After every of her earlier two wins this week, Sabalenka was requested about her stance on the warfare in Ukraine, which started in February 2022, when Russia invaded that nation with assist from Belarus.

Sabalenka mentioned she “did not feel safe” at her information convention Wednesday and needed to guard her “mental health and well-being.” Sabalenka’s need to bypass the usual Q-and-A was supported by the event and the WTA. She is not going to be fined.

The subject of the warfare was raised at each earlier information conferences by Daria Meshcheriakova, a part-time journalist from the Ukraine for a sports activities outlet she mentioned will get 7 million views per thirty days. Meshcheriakova, who mentioned she was once an worker of the German embassy in Kyiv, left Ukraine 10 days after the warfare started and moved to the Netherlands.

Sabalenka’s first match at this French Open was in opposition to a participant from Ukraine, Marta Kostyuk, who refused to shake arms on the internet afterward — as she’s carried out in opposition to all opponents from Russia or Belarus because the assaults started. Kostyuk was booed by followers apparently unaware of why she declined the same old gesture.

Two spokespeople for the French Tennis Federation would not say who was allowed to speak with Sabalenka on Friday, however a transcript was distributed to the media. The primary “question” was: “Before we start, I know there was a tense situation in your second-round press conference, and if you wanted to address it at all.”

The response, in keeping with the transcript: “After my match, I spoke with the media like I normally do. I know they still expect some questions that are more about the politics and not so much about my tennis. For many months now I have answered these questions at tournaments and been very clear in my feelings and my thoughts. These questions do not bother me after my matches. I know that I have to provide answers to the media on things not related to my tennis or my matches, but on Wednesday I did not feel safe in (the) press conference. I should be able to feel safe when I do interviews with the journalists after my matches. For my own mental health and well-being, I have decided to take myself out of this situation today, and the tournament has supported me in this decision. It hasn’t been an easy few days, and now my focus is (to) continue to play well here in Paris.”

What adopted had been subjects reminiscent of how Sabalenka performed Friday, her earlier monitor document at Roland Garros, her health coaching and what kinds of films she has been watching.

On the 2021 French Open, Osaka — a four-time main champion and former No. 1 — shined a lightweight on the difficulty of athletes’ psychological well being by saying she didn’t wish to communicate to the media through the event. She was docked $15,000 for skipping the information convention after her first-round victory in Paris, then was threatened by all 4 Grand Slam tournaments with attainable extra punishment, together with disqualification or suspension, if she continued to sit down out these availabilities.

Osaka then pulled out of the competitors, saying she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” earlier than chatting with the media and revealed she has “suffered long bouts of depression.”

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.

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