Russian tennis star Anastasia Potapova responds to Ukrainian opponent refusing to play her

Anastasia Potapova says Russian athletes are ‘hostages of the situation’ amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

The Russian’s comments come after her Ukrainian opponent and No.1 seed at the Monterrey Open, Elina Svitolina, said she would refuse to play her with tennis’ governing bodies failing to take action amid the ongoing conflict.

Potapova has now spoken out on Instagram with their first-round match in Mexico still in doubt given World No.15 Svitolina’s stance.

‘As a rule, even in childhood we choose our own path of development. Even when I was a kid, I dreamed of playing tennis without choosing a match, a country or a partner in the game,’ Potapova said.

‘It is difficult to explain to people from politics that for me there is no opponent from any country, I am fighting for victory, my best game, for my result.

‘Unfortunately, now we, professional athletes, are essentially becoming hostages of the current situation. Playing tennis is our choice and our dream, to which we go daily, practicing, and constantly trying to be better in our results.

‘I’m sorry, but even though I am a stranger to politics, I am against grief, tears and war.
‘The peace unites the world, and everyone should remain human in it. And children should continue to dream.’

While the likes of FIFA have banned all Russian football teams from competing and Formula One have cancelled the Russian Grand Prix this year, tennis’ governing bodies have remained silent.

Svitolina says she doesn’t hold anything against her Russian opponent but has demanded the likes of the Women’s Tennis Association and the International Tennis Federation take action.

Posting on Instagram she wrote: ‘Dear all, I believe the current situation requires a clear position from our organisations: ATP, WTA and ITF.

‘As such we – Ukrainian players – requested to ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems.

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina refuses to play Russian opponent in next match

‘Accordingly, I want to announce that I will not play tomorrow in Monterrey, nor any other match against Russian or Belarusian tennis players until our organisations take this necessary decision.

‘I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland.

‘Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarusians, who bravely stated their position against the war.

‘Their support is essential.’

The WTA is yet to respond to Svitolina’s request and it remains uncertain what will happen to Potapova in the tournament if the Ukrainian withdraws.

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