Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko reveals panic attack triggered by comments from WTA CEO


Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko had a panic attack before the Aryna Sabalenka match and she says it was triggered by the comments made by WTA CEO Steve Simon.

On Sunday, Tsurenko was scheduled to play Belarusian tennis star Sabalenka in the Indian Wells third round. 

But Tsurenko pulled out of the match and the reason for her withdrawal was listed as personal. 

In an interview with Ukrainian media BTU, Tsurenko claims WTA CEO Simon told her that he is against the Russian invasion of Ukraine but also told her she should not be upset if Russian or Belarusian players support their government.

“A few days ago I had a conversation with our WTA CEO Steve Simon and I was absolutely shocked by what I heard. 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,” Tsurenko told BTU.

Tsurenko: I was shocked by Simon’s comments

“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. 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,” Tsurenko said. 

Last year, Ukrainian players wanted the ATP and WTA to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete only after they publicly condemn the actions of the Russian and Belarusian governments.

The ATP and WTA refused to go that route as Russian and Belarusian players have been competing for the past year as neutrals.

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