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Belarusian star dropped from aid event over ‘sensitivities’ of Ukrainian players — RT Sport News

Belarusian former women’s world number one Victoria Azarenka has dropped out of a Ukrainian aid exhibition event scheduled on Wednesday ahead of the US Open.

Azarenka, 33, was set to take part in the ‘Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition’ event until the United States Tennis Association (USTA) backtracked and decided she would not compete, as confirmed in a statement. 

«In the last 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not be participating in our ‘Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition’ this evening,» the statement began.

«Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate. Given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the on-going conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us.»

Ukrainian players, including Marta Kostyuk, are said to have been unhappy about Azarenka’s participation in the event. 

The decision comes after the USTA decided not to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the US Open, unlike the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) did at Wimbledon.

This saw the ATP and WTA tours strip the British Grand Slam of its ranking points, and reports have claimed that the USTA feared similar treatment and therefore allowed the likes of reigning men’s champion and current world number Daniil Medvedev to defend the crown he won against Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows last year.

Wimbledon champion Djokovic will not have a chance to seek revenge at the tournament, which kicks off on August 29, as his unvaccinated status means he cannot enter the US. 

The latest ordeal for two-time Grand Slam winner Azarenka is the second she has encountered in North America in recent weeks due to her nationality. 

Just over a fortnight ago, she announced that she’d had to pull out of the National Bank Open in Toronto due to her Canadian visa not being approved and called the development «truly disappointing.»

After moving on to the Cincinnati Open, Azarenka now heads to the US Open as a three-time finalist, in 2012, 2013 and 2020, although she lost on each occasion. 

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