Hard allegations against Steve Simon from Lessja Zurenko!
After the Ukrainian withdrew from Aryna Sabalenka ahead of their match in the third round of the WTA tournament in Indian Wells, she cited a panic attack as the reason. In an interview with Ukrainian online media BTU, she said: “I just had a nervous breakdown after all the things I heard. It was a panic attack. I had trouble breathing.”
Responsible for this was a personal conversation with the CEO of the WTA. In it, Simon is said to have expressed his conviction to the 33-year-old that Russian and Belarusian athletes will take part in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. This is only fair.
He is also said to have asked the world No. 95 not to get upset when rivals support Russia’s invasion of their homeland. “This is just her own opinion, and other people’s opinions shouldn’t upset me.”
WTA rejects exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes
“I tried to digest it all”, she described the situation since this conversation, but before the duel with Belarusian Sabalenka “I just mentally collapsed”. And she’s not the only one who’s upset. “Ukrainian players in our chat know about this conversation. Everyone felt the same, everyone is shocked.”
When asked to hold a conference call with the WTA, the organization replied that it recognized the difficult situation of Ukrainian athletes.
Nevertheless, it is a basic principle that individual athletes can take part in competitions in a performance-oriented manner and without any form of discrimination. Punishment due to actions of their respective home countries are therefore not planned.
Zurenko now hopes that she can “refocus and better prepare for the next tournament” after the incident.