Daria Kasatkina criticizes the war in Ukraine

For the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, a Russian tennis player has publicly criticized the war, a move that could put her in trouble if she returns home.

During a series of recent interviews with Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko in Barcelona Posted on YouTubeDaria Kasatkina called the war a “complete nightmare”, said that the end of the war was what she most wanted in life now, and also came out as gay.

For Kasatkina, currently the 12th highest-ranking Russian woman, the remarks were a rare move for a figure famous for her stature in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has backed a series of laws against speaking out against the war and against expressing pro-homosexual views.

Kasatkina, 25, who goes by the name Dasha, said she wanted to train with players and play against them “you don’t have to worry about them getting bombed,” according to translations of the video circulated on Twitter on Tuesday. She expressed her sympathy to the Ukrainian players who were forced to leave their homes and contact the tennis academies in Western Europe to request a place to train during the outbreak of war in their country. “I can’t imagine the feeling of not having a home,” she said.

Lesia Tsurenko, a 33-year-old veteran from Kyiv, is one of those players. Tsurenko spent the early days of Wimbledon watching footage from Ukraine showing these Russians Bombing a mall And the Other civilian targets.

“They are just trying to kill as many people as possible,” Tsurenko said of the Russian army.

Earlier this year, after months of uncertainty, Tsurenko moved to Italy to live and train at an academy run by famed coach Riccardo Piatti. Tsurenko also spoke at Wimbledon about the difficulty of sharing locker rooms and hotels with Russian players who she believes are supporting Putin and the war in some way, given Putin’s popularity in Russia and his control of state media. Tsurenko said the Russian players made no effort to talk to her or express their sympathy.

Another player from Ukraine, Dayana Yastremska, 22, said the same at the French Open.

When asked if she would be concerned for her safety if she decided to return home after the busy summer schedule of tournaments in Europe and North America, Kasatkina replied, “Yes I’ve thought about it,” and said she felt powerless to change anything. “Even Europe can’t do” anything, she said, using an expletive.

Kasatkina’s comments It comes as Russian players are back at the top of professional tennis after a forced hiatus.

In April, at the request of the British government, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which runs Wimbledon, and the Lawn Tennis Association, which oversees other annual spring and summer tournaments in England, banned Russian and Belarusian players from participating in their tournaments.

“The UK government has put in place guidelines for UK sporting bodies and events, with the specific aim of limiting Russia’s influence,” said Ian Hewitt, president of the All England Club. “We have taken this guidance into account, as we must as a high-profile event and leading British institution.”

He said the combination of the scale and severity of Russia’s invasion of a sovereign nation, the condemnation of more than 140 nations by the United Nations and the “specific and directiveness of addressing matters” made this situation “very, very exceptional”.

The move was popular in Britain, according to polls, but it met with significant opposition from both men’s and women’s tennis tours. They condemned it as discriminatory and decided to. deducted rating points For any wins at Wimbledon. It also represents a Dramatic break with precedents Not to allow politics to interfere with the participation of individual athletes in sports, and to limit the penalties taken in response to the war to ban Russians and Belarusians. teams or any flags Or other country codes from competitions.

in irony twistAnd the Elena Rybakinawho was born in Russia but chose to represent Kazakhstan four years ago in exchange for funding from that country’s Tennis Association, Won the women’s singles Wimbledon title. Rybakina, whose parents still live in Russia and still spend time there, bemoans when asked about the war, claiming that her English skills were limited, despite lengthy English-language news conferences on a variety of topics throughout the tournament.

Other Russian players, including No. 1 men’s singles player Daniil Medvedev, and 26th seed Karen Khachanov in men’s singles, also refrained from commenting on the Russian invasion, other than to say they supported peace, although they did not make it clear under what circumstances it should Peace is achieved.

Earlier this year, before the invasion, Andrei Rublev, another top Russian player, wrote “No to war please” on a TV camera after the match. Rublev was particularly upset that he was prevented from playing Wimbledon. He offered to donate any money he might have earned from the tournament to relief efforts in Ukraine.

The US Tennis Association, which organizes the US Open and helps oversee several other summer tournaments ahead of the Grand Slam event, has chosen not to follow Wimbledon’s approach and Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to participate.

Kasatkina’s comments about her sexuality and Russia’s views on homosexuality will undoubtedly cause shock waves in her country. She criticized the state for forcing LGBTI people to live a secret life.

“Living in the closet is the hardest thing, it’s impossible,” she said. When asked if two women would be able to walk down the street holding hands, she said, “Never.”

Kravchenko asked if she currently has a girlfriend. “Yes,” said Kasatkina.

“Sports are like the little straw that might pull something off, I don’t know,” she said. “It shed some light.”

At the conclusion of the interview, Kasatkina screamed at Kravchenko’s chest as they sat next to a tennis court and was worried about whether she would be safe if she returned home.

He told her: “You are a good girl, Dasha.”