Ukrainian tennis player Lesia Tsurenko spoke out against her Russian colleagues following her first-round loss to world No 1 Iga Swiatek at the French Open on Monday. The world No 119 said she was “always hoping” not to be drawn against Russians at tournaments because it’s too “painful”, and also pointed out that a ban from Wimbledon was “nothing” compared to what Ukrainians were experiencing.
Tsurenko has been outspoken on the effects of the war in Ukraine, recently revealing she had “nowhere to go”, and has opened up once again on how difficult it was to be a Ukrainian player on the tennis tour right now, also sharing her opinion on Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players. “The Wimbledon decision, of course as a Ukrainian, I think that I should show as much support for my country as I can, and I think it was the right decision from Wimbledon just to show some support from the tennis world,” the 32-year-old said after her loss to the former French Open champion.
The four-time title winner also said she “didn’t like the decision about playing with no points,” as she thought the ban was “nothing” on the Russian players. “I think my personal opinion is that as we see a lot of sports, they banned Russian, a number of Russian players and in tennis it’s only one tournament. I honestly think that this is not a very big price for them to pay or to accept,” she explained.
“I think it’s not too much, it’s not much, really, it’s just one tournament. But, I don’t know, for them they feel like they are losing their job. And I also feel many bad things, I feel a lot of terrible things and I think compared to that, losing a chance to play in one tournament is nothing.”
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Tsurenko also opened up on the “pain” of facing her Russian and Belarusian competitors on the tour, admitting that it made an already difficult situation even worse. She continued: “I’ll be honest, it’s very painful and I’m always hoping not to get them in my draw. This is another thing that I will, that maybe people should hear that being Ukrainian and trying to stay on tour and to continue playing is a big, big issue now, like we probably we are all working with psychologists now, we are all thinking a lot about the country and about our families.
“So, yeah, it’s tough, but, and every time you get some extra thing like playing Russian or Belarusian player, it’s tough mentally.” The former world No 23 also said she had shared her concerns with the lack of ranking points at Wimbledon with the WTA “a lot of time” but wasn’t told anything that could make her “happy”.
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“I think when it’s not in your country you don’t really understand how terrible it is. Of course there are people that are not involved so much, they don’t see all the news that I see, all the pictures, all the videos that I see,” she added.
“I really feel that I hate what Russian propaganda is saying about Ukraine in general. I really hate it. I feel a lot of anger because there is a lot of lie about my country and it hurts me a lot. I want the whole world to see that Ukraine is a beautiful country with beautiful people. I don’t know if I can ask players to care more, but I would like to see that from the players, from the WTA, from ATP, I would like top players just to support more and to show more understanding of what is really going on.”