ROLAND GARROS — Aryna Sabalenka refused requests to speak to media at the French Open on Friday after a tense exchange with a Ukrainian journalist over her stance on Belarus’s role in the war.

Sabalenka was asked on Wednesday if she would “flatly condemn the fact that Belarus is attacking Ukraine with missiles” but simply told the journalist: “I’ve got no comments to you”.

The No 2 seed was requested through the normal tournament channels but it is understood that she refused those requests and instead did an interview with a member of WTA staff.

“For many months now I have answered these questions at tournaments and been very clear in my feelings and my thoughts,” Sabalenka said.

“These questions do not bother me after my matches. I know that I have to provide answers to the media on things not related to my tennis or my matches, but on Wednesday I did not feel safe in press conference.

“I should be able to feel safe when I do interviews with the journalists after my matches. For my own mental health and well-being, I have decided to take myself out of this situation today, and the tournament has supported me in this decision.

“It hasn’t been an easy few days, and now my focus is continue to play well here in Paris.”

Sabalenka was drawn against Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the first round earlier this week. Kostyuk refused to shake her hand after defeat, as she has with all players from Russia and Belarus, and afterwards Sabalenka issued an impassioned response to a question on the war.

“I said it many, many times: nobody in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, support the war,” Sabalenka said.

“Nobody. How can we support the war? Nobody, normal people will never support it.

“Why we have to go loud and say that things: this is like one plus one, it’s two. Of course we don’t support war.

“If it could affect anyhow the war, if it could like stop it, we would do it. But unfortunately, it’s not in our hands.”

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