Russian Tennis Federation Shamil Tarpischev shared strong words about Elina Svitolina, saying she is "nobody" and that "there is no need to pay attention" to what Svitolina says.
When Wimbledon imposed players bans on Russian and Belarusian players, Svitolina made it clear that she is not advocating for Russian players to be banned completely from competing.
Svitolina said she and other Ukrainian players just wanted Russian players to make clear their position regarding their country's actions in Ukraine.
“There is no need to pay attention [to what Svitolina says], this is not only my opinion, but also what lawyers think. Because of any statement, we [Russian players] can be excluded from some competitions. Now we are playing, everything is fine with us. It's stupid to react at all. Who is Svitolina? Absolutely nobody," Tarpischev said.
1/ President of #Russian #Tennis Federation: There is no need to pay attention [to what Svitolina says], this is not only my opinion, but also what lawyers think. […] It's stupid to react at all. Who is Svitolina? Absolutely nobody. #Ukraine #WTA #ATP pic.twitter.com/TYqiX2VNef
— Ukrainian Tennis 🎾 ENG (@ukrtennis_eng) May 12, 2022
The Svitolina comments that prompted Tarpischev reaction
“This is very sad because many athletes from different countries came up to us and showed us their support. That's why it really hurts us and we don't understand why exactly [Russian and Belarusian players] didn't," Svitolina told the Associated Press. "For us, for Ukrainians, it's very important that they speak out, that they choose which side they take. We want to know, we want to feel safe about that. Because if they don't say their opinion on this, we don't know if they support their government, if they support the action of the army, Because in Russia and Belarus sport is a big propaganda."
Svitolina's comments are similar to the ones her fellow compatriot Marta Kostyuk shared recently.
Kostyuk said the Ukrainian players initially didn't want to speak out against Russian colleagues because they felt they were close and that their relationship was fair.
When players arrived to Indian Wells, Kostyuk said instead of receiving support, she and other Ukrainian players got completely ignored by their Russian colleagues.
That was when the Ukrainian players started fearing the Russian players support Russia's actions in Ukraine.
That was probably one of the reasons why the Ukrainian players demanded the ATP and WTA to make Russian players make clear their position regarding the war.
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