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Sabalenka Declines French Open Press Conference, Citing Safety Concerns

Sabalenka Declines French Open Press Conference, Citing Safety Concerns

Aryna Sabalenka, ranked No. 2 in the world, opted out of the official post-match press conference at the French Open on Friday, expressing that she did not feel secure after being questioned about the war in Ukraine during a previous press interaction.

Sabalenka refrained from addressing allegations regarding her support for Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and her reluctance to unequivocally condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as raised by a reporter during a press conference on Wednesday. Belarus is a significant military ally of Russia in the ongoing conflict.

The tennis player mentioned that the organizers of Roland Garros supported her decision to forgo the conventional press obligations. Instead, Sabalenka spoke to a selected group of media representatives after her third-round victory against Kamilla Rakhimova.

It remains uncertain whether Sabalenka will resume official media duties following her last-16 match against either Sloane Stephens or Yulia Putintseva on Sunday.

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In a previous incident, after Sabalenka’s first-round triumph last week, her defeated Ukrainian opponent, Marta Kostyuk, faced boos from the French crowd for refusing to shake hands at the conclusion of the match.

As a top contender for the singles title in Paris, the 24-year-old Sabalenka has the opportunity to claim the world No. 1 ranking if she emerges victorious in the tournament, replacing Iga Swiatek.

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