Talking to the press after her loss in the semifinals of the 2023 Australian Open, Victoria Azarenka was annoyed by journalists asking her about the tensions related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The two-time champion in Melbourne said “you keep dragging players into it.”
As a person coming from Belarus, Azarenka played the Australian Open under neutral flag, given that her country is considered a Russian ally in the war against Ukraine. Asked whether the situation is affecting her, the former world No.1 responded that journalists are those constantly bringing up the topic and creating tension.
JOURNALIST: There’s been a lot of scrutiny about a lot of the Russian and Belarusian players here. I’m sure that even if you weren’t looking at social you would’ve seen there was an incident with Novak’s dad last night. Is it difficult for you when you go out there to put all those things out of your mind as well? Do you think there are other players who get impacted by it?
VIKA: Hm… other players get impacted by… what exactly are you asking me?
JOURNALIST: Distractions out of their hands and the constant sort of news and talk.
VIKA: News are coming from who?
JOURNALIST: Well, from everyone. Social media. Everybody’s talking about it.
VIKA: You are here talking about it right now. Obviously it’s a topic that you wanna continue to bring up and up and up again. So, I don’t know what do you want me to say.
Moreover, Azarenka was asked about the incident involving Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan, who was photographed with supporters of Vladimir Putin after his son’s quarterfinal victory over Russia’s Andrey Rublev. Irritated by the political questions, Azarenka stated that she didn’t see how the happenings were in any way related to Novak himself.
VIKA: I don’t know what you guys want us to do. Talk about it? I don’t know what’s the goal here… that it’s continuously brought up. These incidents that, in my opinion, have nothing to do with players, but somehow you keep dragging players into it. So… what’s the goal here? I think you should ask yourself that question. Not me.
As journalists continued to bring up provocative political questions, Azarenka explained that any response she would give could be misinterpreted and presented as the press pleased. Athletes should stay out of things that are out of their control, the Belarusian concluded.
Let play dumb wieterfahren. It’s direct way cut that’s question. Needed words: aggressor, invader, war crime, dictatorship, Z as today’s hakenkreuz, not Zorro at this time, victims. In sport: sistematic state doping in ruSSian zone.