WTA CEO Reportedly Said Players Shouldn't Be Upset If Their Peers Support Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine - UBITENNIS
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WTA CEO Reportedly Said Players Shouldn’t Be Upset If Their Peers Support Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

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An argument between the WTA and Ukrainian players is brewing after the head of women’s tennis allegedly told one of those players that they ‘should not get upset’ if some of their peers support Russia’s invasion of their country. 

 

Leisa Tsurenko has claimed that she spoke with WTA CEO Steve Simon about the ongoing situation in the sport. At present players from Russia and Belarus are allowed to participate on the Tour but only as neutral athletes. However, the countries are currently suspended from all team events. Last year Britain became the only country to ban those players from tournaments which prompted a fine from the WTA. 

There is an ongoing debate surrounding if Wimbledon should reverse its ban amid increasing pressure from both the WTA and ATP. However, some Ukrainian players say the ban should not be lifted due to the ongoing war which has claimed thousands of lives. 

One compromise could be that those from the two countries must sign some form of a declaration stating that they will not make pro-war or political gestures during Wimbledon before they are allowed to compete. Simon has not directly commented on the Grand Slam but during a recent interview with BTU, Tsurenko said she was told by the tennis chief that players should be allowed to have their views. 

“A few days ago I had a conversation with our WTA CEO Steve Simon and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard,” she said. “He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me. At the same time, he noted that if this happened to him and he was in my place, he would feel terrible.”

Simon goes on to say that he believes Russia and Belarus will be allowed to participate in the 2024 Olympics. Arguing that doing so would show that the principles of the Games work as they treat every athlete as equal. 

“He (Simon) expressed confidence that the Russians and Belarusians will return to the Olympics and said that this will happen exactly as it is happening now in tennis. He also said that “fair play” and the Olympic principles are not violated, but quite the contrary. It is the fact that they will perform at the Olympics that will show that these principles work, that everyone is equal and everyone has the opportunity to compete there,” Tsurenko commented.
“When asked if he understood that he was telling me this during the active phase of Russia’s military aggression in my country, he said yes, and this is his opinion.”

Tsurenko withdrew from her third round match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka at Indian Wells on Sunday due to ‘personal reasons.’ However, she has since revealed that she suffered a panic attack in the lead-up to the clash and was unable to play. Something the world No.95 has linked to her recent conversation with Simon.

“I was absolutely shocked by this conversation, and already in the last match [against Donna Vekic] it was incredibly difficult to play, difficult to get together and today, when it was time to go to the court, I had a panic attack and I just couldn’t go there. I really hope that I can digest all this information and be more prepared for the next tournament.” She said.
“We asked for a conference call with the WTA Board of Directors to raise the question of how a man like Steve Simon can be a leader in the WTA and what we can do about it. How can we further understand that our organization somehow protects our rights? I just don’t understand how it happened in this world that such things need to be explained. This is very surprising and very painful.” 

In a separate development, the Ukranian players have been given no guarantee that they will continue to be given support from organisers regarding accommodation etc at WTA events. Something that was provided at the Australian Open. It is said that the situation is ‘being monitored’ by the WTA. 

Simon is yet to publicly comment on Tsurenko’s remarks. 

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Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.

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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.

 

Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.

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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.

 

The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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Ons Jabeur Ready For Dubai Challenge Despite Injury Struggles

Ons Jabeur is looking to overcome injury struggles and revitalize her form in Dubai.

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Ons Jabeur is looking to be ready for Dubai this week after struggling with injuries this season.

 

The year could have started better for the Wimbledon finalist who continues to struggle with injuries.

Having struggled with knee injuries, Jabeur enters Dubai in very inconsistent form as she went out in the first round in Doha to Lesia Tsurenko.

However despite recent struggles Jabeur seems determined to continue working on solutions as she prepares for the upcoming challenge in Dubai.

Speaking ahead of the event in Dubai Jabeur reflected on her recent retirement to Tsurenko, “I think it’s the worst decision you can take because my heart wants to play and my body is not allowing me so much,” Jabeur told The National.

“I feel like I need to take the right decision and sometimes you have to take decisions where your heart is not agreeing with it. But all I know is that I’m doing my best to be ready for this tournament and be ready to play here and compete in front of amazing fans.”

The Tunisian will look to pick up form in what should be an incredible atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai.

In recent tournaments there have been football-like atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai and that’s something she is looking to capitalise on, “I think everybody knows the match against Simona was unbelievable,” Jabeur reflected on her epic match with Simona Halep in Dubai in 2020.

“We got the Tunisian fans, the Arab fans and the Romanian fans. So it was unbelievable. I would never forget that match because it was right before Covid and after that the crowd completely disappeared so I always tried to think about that match when the stadium was empty.”

Jabeur has a first round BYE in Dubai and will play a qualifier in the second round before potentially facing the in-form Jelena Ostapenko in the third round.

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