Marta Kostyuk and Sergiy Stakhovsky shared their views on Wimbledon ban and military conflict
Two Ukrainian tennis stars have lambasted their Russian counterparts and challenged the views of one of the sport’s greatest players in Rafael Nadal regarding the Wimbledon ban of Russian athletes.
Speaking to Eurosport recently, Ukrainian women’s world number 49 Marta Kostyuk claimed that her Russian and Belarusian professional colleagues had not done their best to speak out against the military operation in her native “cut all contact” of those with whom she had befriended.
The 19-year-old said she did this “because of the fact that we were friends and they never considered talking to me and talking to me.”
“I think that’s a pretty good reason. No matter what their feelings are, I really don’t care.” Kostyuk explained.
“They pretend nothing is happening, they pretend they are the victims of this situation, which I honestly can’t understand,” she complained.
“I don’t know how long has to pass before they stop making excuses to do anything, do anything, make any decision, make any move.”
Managing to flee Ukraine itself after the conflict began in February, Kostyuk claimed that Russian players “who are at least in the top 50 have all the money to move their family” also outside Russia.
“Come on, it’s been two months, they have every option to move their family somewhere, it’s just the sacrifice people choose not to make, it’s not like you don’t have a choice. Everyone has a choice in life.” said Kostyuk, who claims to personally know people who have fled Russia.
Unsurprisingly, Kostyuk supports the banning of Russian players at Wimbledon this summer, when they can play on both the women’s and men’s tours under neutral status.
Kostyuk pointed out that there is a “list of countries which, at government level, have signed or voted” against the military operation.
“So based on that, which is not political, the decision was made, so let’s be clear about that,” she asked.
Additionally, the youngster pointed out that while most tour personalities have remained silent, speaking out has had a positive effect on her.
“I think that’s the thing that I should do, that I have to do, and that’s been my position since day one,” said Kostyuk.
“Because I decided that the tennis court is where I was going to fight – because I could go back to Ukraine and volunteer but honestly, still at this stage, I don’t know if that would make me feel better than playing, but I picked this one and I’ll never know the other part.”
Although they have made it clear that they do not support the military operation itself, many big names in tennis such as world number one Novak Djokovic have criticized the Wimbledon ban of Russian players, whom they believe discriminatory.
Last weekend, Men’s Grand Slam record holder Rafael Nadal joined them as he prepared to make his return to the Madrid Open.
“I think it’s very unfair to my fellow Russian tennis players, my colleagues, in that sense it’s not their fault what’s happening right now.” the Spaniard, who beat Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final in early 2022, told reporters.
“Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks, if the players will make some kind of decision. There is one thing that is negative, there are things that are clear. When the government imposes restrictions, you just have to follow them .” Nadal lamented.
However, retired former world number 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky took to Twitter to share a post with Nadal’s comments and tagged the 35-year-old.
“Rafael Nadal, we competed together” Stakhovsky has begun.
“We faced each other on tour. Please tell me how fair it is that Ukrainian players can’t go home? How fair is it that Ukrainian children can’t play tennis? How is it right for Ukrainians to die?” He asked.