Ukraine tennis star Marta Kostyuk slammed Russian players at the 2022 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Belgium, for not speaking with her or adequately responding to the conflict.

The current world No. 54 spoke at a press conference after defeating Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska, and claimed that Russian players were more concerned with their individual finances than they were with reaching out to her to make sure that she was OK.

“No one has told me that they regret what their country is doing to mine, nor have they apologized to me or with other Ukrainian tennis players,” Marta Kostyuk, 19, said. “I have no explanation why the Russians behave like this. It disgusts me to get to the court and see that their only problem right now is not being able to make money transfers and the outrageous thing is that they talk about it.”

After Russia invaded Ukraine, many banks cut off access to the country for prominent members, politicians, and bureaucrats, as part of heavy sanctions imposed globally.

“One player messaged me, another chatted with me, but I didn’t hear any apologies,” she added. “You don’t have to be involved in politics to behave like a human being. Everyone knows what’s going on.”

“It hurts every time I hit the court and I see all these Russian players,” Marta said. “Their only problem right now is not being able to transfer money. It’s unacceptable.”

Marta Kostyuk, 19-year-old tennis player from Ukraine, demanded action from the WTA
Marta Kostyuk, 19-year-old tennis player from Ukraine, demanded action from the WTA. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Russian tennis players – including Daniil Medvedev – have made statements on the war in Ukraine to press, but Marta Kostyuk criticized their responses.

Medvedev, the current world No. 1 (after Novak Djokovic took a back seat for refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19), previously stated that he hoped for “peace in all countries” since the conflict was impacting “the only way I can play.”

Andrey Rublev, another top 10 men’s player, also released a statement in late February, simply asking for “no war please.”

“You cannot be neutral in this situation,” Marta Kostyuk commented. “‘No to war’ can mean several things. For example, we [Ukraine] could end the war by surrendering. But that was never an option.”

”So ‘No war’ to me means wanting Ukraine to surrender because Putin will never stop, the whole world knows how crazy he is,” she continued. “So, we fight. And these press releases hurt me because they don’t make sense.”

Marta Kostyuk also expressed her dissatisfaction with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and demanded that they condemn Russia and pull out of Russian tournaments.

After a disturbing situation in Beijing where tennis star Peng Shuai was reported missing following sexual assault allegations she made against a former politician, the WTA swiftly canceled all events in China.

The Women’s Tennis Association did not suspend activity in Russia and Belarus, however, until Tuesday, March 1, after Marta Kostyuk’s comments. The decision, however, still allowed for Russian tennis players to compete much like how the Olympics worked, where they play under a non-denominational flag.

Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina, the current world No. 15 ranked women’s tennis player, echoed Marta Kostyuk’s call, and requested that the WTA force Russian players to play with no mention of their home country.

Svitolina even threatened to pull out of upcoming tournaments should the WTA ignore her demands, and the demands of her fellow Ukrainian tennis players.

“Our country, Ukraine, is under brutal attack by superior nuclear power,” Marta wrote on Twitter. “The bombs and rockets are hitting our houses, killing our people, destroying our life.”

Posting photos of the devastation from Kharkiv, Ukraine, she urged the country to “stay strong.”