Aryna Sabalenka left ‘crying’ over last year’s Wimbledon’s ban on Belarusians

Aryna Sabalenka says she could not bring herself to watch Wimbledon last year amid the ban on Russians and Belarusians, which left her ‘crying’.

Players from Russia and Belarus were blocked from competing at last year’s Championships amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

That included Belarusian world No.2 Sabalenka, who had enjoyed a run to the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2021.

The All England Club’s decision to ban Russians and Belarusians was controversial and divided opinion, with the tournament stripped of its ranking points last year.

But Russians, Belarusians and ranking points are back for 2023 as the Championships get underway on Monday.

Reflecting on what she was doing during Wimbledon last year amid the ban, Sabalenka said: ‘I was at home having a little vacation, then practicing.

‘But, no, I didn’t watch Wimbledon a lot. I felt so bad and I just couldn’t watch it. Every time if Wimbledon would be on TV, I would cry, so… I decided just to stay away from Wimbledon last year.’

Sabalenka is among the favourites to win the Wimbledon women’s singles title and gets started against world No.82 Panna Udvardy on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old, who lifted her maiden Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open in January, has refused to face any more questions about ‘politics’ during the tournament.

‘I would like to say I’m not going to talk about politics,’ Sabalenka added.

I’m here to talk about tennis only. Please respect that. If you have any kind of political questions, you can ask WTA or the tournament.

They can send you the transcript of my answers from the previous tournaments.’

Quizzed if that was her personal decision or if it was forced on her, Sabalenka said: ‘It’s my personal decision.’


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