This “Roland Garros” has already become special for Arina Sobolenko. According to the results of the tournament, the Belarusian tennis player has a chance to become the first racket in the world for the first time in her career. Iga Sviontek climbed to the front line in April 2022, and it still hasn’t come down. But that’s not even the point here. And the fact that Sobolenko, for almost the first time, faced pressure that had nothing to do with sports. The fact that some players and journalists, to put it mildly, are not very friendly with the representatives of Russia and Belarus, has unfortunately become commonplace. But what Arina went through in this tournament goes beyond these limits set by the new reality.
It all started with the fact that the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, even before the first round match with Sobolenko, announced that she was not going to shake hands with him. The Belarusian reacted to this very calmly. “If she hates me, fine. I can’t help it. There will be people who love me, and there will be people who hate me. If she hates me, I don’t feel the same way about her. If she could, she would have stopped what was happening. As for refusing to shake hands, I understand Ukrainian tennis players. At the same time, I feel that sport should be out of politics. We are just athletes. If they don’t want to shake my hand, so be it,” Sobolenko was quoted as saying by AFP.
“If Kostyuk hates me, it’s okay.” Sobolenko revelations before the start of “Roland Garros”
Kostyuk kept her promise, for which she was booed after the match by the French spectators. And Arina, a naive soul, at first thought that her whistle was aimed at her. And only then I realized that the public expressed outrage for the Ukrainian woman. “It was a very tough match, I mean emotionally. Sorry guys, I didn’t understand at first, I thought this “boooo” was directed at me and I was a bit surprised. But then I felt the support from her, so thank you very much. This is really important,” Sobolenko said in an on-court interview.
Then Arina began to be harassed with questions about the situation in Ukraine. Apparently, journalists believe that athletes should be experts in this area… She also showed restraint here. “First of all, when people ask me about Ukrainians, they always ask me a question from the category: do you know they hate you? And they do not specify if it is personal or political. As for the situation in Ukraine, I have said it many, many times: no one in this world, neither Russian nor Belarusian athletes, supports what is happening. Nobody. How can we support you? Normal people would never do this. Why do we have to scream about it? It’s like 1+1. If we could do something, we would. But, unfortunately, this is not in our hands,” Sobolenko said at a press conference after the titular victory at Roland Garros.
Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images
However, when the Ukrainian journalist again tried to turn on the old drive, Arina could not stand it. “You have already received enough responses from me and I have no comment for you,” Sobolenko told a news conference. The athlete was then supported by the moderator, who called to change the topic of conversation.
And after winning in the third round, Sobolenko decided to get ahead of the curve and refused to hold an open press conference. In this situation, only one thing surprises: why didn’t he do this earlier? “I have to feel safe during interviews with journalists. For my own mental health and well-being, I decided to withdraw from this situation today and the tournament organizers supported my decision. It’s been a difficult few days, now I’m focused on continuing to play well here.
After the game, as usual, I spoke to the press. I know you’re still expecting questions more about politics than tennis. I have been answering these questions in tournaments for many months and have expressed my feelings and thoughts clearly. These questions don’t bother me after games. I know that I have to give answers to the press on issues not related to tennis or my matches, but on Wednesday I did not feel safe at a press conference,” Sobolenko explained about her decision, whose words are quoted by the Roland press service. Garrós.
“I was not expecting this”. Ukrainian fans booed Kostyuk at Roland Garros
And after reaching the quarterfinals, Arina also decided not to give an open press conference. This decision of the athlete was supported even by the American Jessica Pegula. “She was bombarded with questions about the situation in Ukraine and the role of Belarus in this. She clearly felt that she had had enough. I think it’s her right. Yes, the press has the right to ask whatever questions it sees fit, but Arina also has the right not to answer them if she doesn’t want to,” Pegula wrote for the BBC.
And in the quarterfinals, in which the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina was the rival of Arina, there was a scandal at all – read all the details in this material. After that, the Belarusian made a gentleman’s move and decided to hold an open press conference, apparently in order to close the topic once and for all (although, of course, journalists will continue to pester the tennis player with questions not related to sports. ).
“I don’t want my country to be involved in any conflict. I have spoken of this many times, and you know my opinion. You have my position. You have my answer. I answered it many times. I don’t support it And it’s that I don’t want sport to get involved in politics, because I’m just a tennis player, a 25-year-old tennis player. And if I wanted to be in politics, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t want to get involved in any politics. I just want to be a tennis player. Do I support Lukashenka? Like it’s a tough question. I say that I do not support him, that is, I do not support Lukashenka now,” Sabalenka said.
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
And he added that he does not regret previous denials of open communication: “No, I do not regret the decisions I made. I felt that they did not respect me and I felt very bad. I mean, the Grand Slam is already enough pressure to deal with, and I was just trying to focus on myself, on my game. I really hope you journalists understand me, my feelings. You know that I have great respect for all of you and I am always open. You can ask whatever you want. You will receive all the information. But at the last press conference, I felt that it has become a political TV show, and I am not an expert on politics. I’m just a tennis player. Yeah, I just had to go and focus on my tennis and my game. Yeah, and I feel good after doing this, and I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to talk to me.”
The point was put by the famous tennis player in the past, and now the director of Roland Garros, Amelie Mauresmo.
The French defended Arina. She “she Came away from the first two press conferences of the tournament, to put it mildly, very impressed. Given the various experiences we have had in the past in terms of athlete mental health, we have decided to grant her request not to speak to the press. And she was not the only one who made this request.
Sobolenko won the battle and waited for Svitolina at the net. The Ukrainian didn’t even look at her.
It doesn’t surprise me that politics mixes with sport. When there is a question about an opinion, the athlete must be respected if he does not want to talk about it. It becomes problematic when the question is asked multiple times and the athlete says that he doesn’t want to answer it. He must not put the athlete in this position. There must be a cordial understanding between the two parties. The athlete must respect the questions, but the journalist must respect the will of the athlete if he does not want to express his opinion, ”Tennis World USA quoted Mauresmo as citing the newspaper L’Equipe.
Winning Roland Garros is a feat for any tennis player. If Sobolenko wins the title under such conditions, it will be a double feat, both sporting and personal.