‘Seeing them here really hurts me’: Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk blasts Indian Wells organisers for allowing Russian players to compete as neutrals with teenager furious at ‘no substance’ anti-war messages
- 19-year-old Ukrainian Kostyuk hit out at the organisers of Indian Wells event
- She believes Russian players should have been barred amid conflict in Ukraine
- They have been allowed into the BNP Paribas Open under a neutral flag
- Kostyuk also said no Russian player had apologised to her for the invasion
The uneasy consensus of tennis over the continued participation of Russian players is already being severely tested.
Teenage Ukrainian star Marta Kostyuk has launched a scathing attack on the policy after making the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California.
She questioned why her Russian peers are being allowed to play on as neutral individuals, and accused them of being indifferent to the plight of her country.
Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk expressed her anger at Russian players being allowed to compete at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week
Kostyuk also hit out at fake ‘anti-war’ sentiments by her fellow professionals after the invasion
Kostyuk, considered one of the sport’s brightest prospects, even suggested that they were more concerned about the difficulties of conducting financial transfers.
She was emotional when speaking after a 6-7 7-6 7-5 victory over Ukrainian-born Belgian player Maryna Zanevska.
‘I don’t agree with the action that has been taken,’ she said, in reference to the current decision of the tours and Grand Slams to permit the likes of world No 1 Daniil Medvedev to continue their careers.
‘Look at the other sports, look at the big sports, what they did, that’s it. Seeing (Russian) players on-site really hurts me.’
The 19 year-old world No 54 is also unimpressed with any peace gestures which stop short of condemning the invasion.
Kostyuk wore the yellow and blue colours of the Ukrainian flag during her latest match
Kostyuk beat Ukrainian-born Belgian player Maryna Zanevska in her first round match
‘You cannot be neutral in this,’ she said. ‘These ‘No war’ statements, they hurt me because they have no substance. And seeing them (Russian players) having the only problem not being able to transfer the money and stuff – that’s what they are talking about – this is unacceptable for me.
‘What’s going on is not a secret. You don’t have to be into politics to know what’s going on, to know who invaded who, who is bombing who.
‘As for the circuit, what is very disappointing is that no Russian player came to see me. None have told me they’re sorry for what their country is doing to mine.
‘One player messaged me, another chatted with me, but I didn’t hear any apologies, I didn’t hear anyone telling me they didn’t support what was going on. To me, that’s shocking.’
An injured woman is carried away from the maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol that was shelled by Russian forces earlier this week
A destroyed Russian tank is seen after battles on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv
The air defence units of the Ukrainian Forces shot down another Russian Su-25 attack aircraft, in Volnovakha as the conflict continues
Her words raise the stakes for the sport’s authorities, including Wimbledon, when it comes to holding the line on the policy of allowing Russians and Belorussians to play on, although Kostyuk excused the latter group from her criticism.
Many in the game’s hierarchy are already nervous about the prospect of someone like Medvedev holding trophies aloft, and the signals that will send. They can hardly say there were not warned about how this would look.
However, it is also known that some Russian players are fearful of the consequences of speaking out, for the reaction it will bring back home for them and their families.
Britain’s Harriet Dart is due to play Ukraine’s top player of either sex, Elina Svitolina, later tonight, with Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu also in action.