In the opening match on Court Phillippe Chatrier tomorrow will see Aryna Sabalenka face Marta Kostyuk at the French Open in a match that had many talking especially given the ongoing tensions between Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and their views on it.
Kostyuk in particular has acted almost as the spokesperson for Ukrainian tennis throughout the war alongside the likes of Elina Svitolina and Lesia Tsurenko.
Speaking ahead of their tie at Roland Garros, Sabalenka said she didn't care about the issues Kostyuk has with her but the latter has now hit back starting with about keeping politics and sport separate.
"So if she hate me, okay, I can't do anything about that": Sabalenka doesn't care about issues with Kostyuk ahead of French Open clash
"It's not politics. War is war. We know how Russia & Belarus act in this war. They shoot civilians, take civilians as prisoners, loot homes, rape & kidnap children. This is genocide of Ukrainian people, not politics," said Kostyuk as per BTU.ORG.UA.
“Aryna might become #1.. Having such influence in the world & she refuses it. We’re talking about people being murdered, & we hear leave sports out of politics. War doesn’t choose if you’re an athlete when it comes to your home."
2023 French Open Roland Garros Day One Schedule/Preview including Sabalenka-Kostyuk, Pegula-Collins, Tsitsipas, Sakkari, Rublev and Fernandez
No respect from Kostyuk, dispels notion of hatred
She continued and said that she doesn't have respect for Sabalenka for continuing to use the Russian press and not taking her family out of Belarus despite saying she isn't in favor of the war.
"I don’t have respect for her continuing to go to Russia, speaking to Russian press, not taking her family out of aggressor states despite having financial means. I couldn’t accept myself if I stay there & people just continue to have fun the same as before."
That respect line continued with Kostyuk responding to the 'if she hates me then let her' line from World Number Two. "I've never said in an interview or in private to Aryna that I hate her. I don't know how to comment on why she talks about it like that. For me, this is not about emotions, because hate is an emotion. It’s about respect."
"We aren’t at the level of kindergarten, when someone says they love you or hate you. Love & hate are emotions. Respect is not. I cannot respect this position when it comes to events that change the world like war."