Tennis player Aryna Sabalenka faces backlash after visiting Ukrainian hairdresser

Aryna Sabalenka, Aleksandr Lukashenka
Aryna Sabalenka, Aleksandr Lukashenka
Images source: © Getty Images | Contributor, Robert Prange

8 July 2024 12:19

Aryna Sabalenka has again fallen out of favour with Alexander Lukashenko's regime. She decided to visit a hairdresser and subsequently boasted about it on social media.

Aryna Sabalenka hasn't had the best time in her career. In addition to losing her position as the runner-up in the WTA world rankings, she lost two finals in a row during the clay court tournaments, and at the French Open, she was eliminated by 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva in the quarterfinals. It's worth noting that since her victory at the Australian Open, the Belarusian hasn't triumphed in any competition.

The grass season started disastrously for her. Before the start of the tournament in Berlin, she announced that she would not participate in the Olympic Games in Paris, explaining this decision with a desire to take care of her health. During the tournament mentioned, she retired in the second round and then withdrew from Wimbledon. Now, the media is talking about her next troubles.

Aryna Sabalenka has fallen out of favour with Alexander Lukashenko's regime

The decision to withdraw from the Paris Olympics didn't sit well with the Belarusian authorities. The head of their tennis federation, Sergei Rutenko, supposedly demanded an official explanation from the tennis player's coaching staff. Pavel Latushko, former Belarusian minister and current opposition figure, claimed that Alexander Lukashenko might have influenced the 26-year-old's decision.

After withdrawing from Wimbledon, speculation intensified, but this time, it became clear, beyond a doubt, that the Minsk native was dealing with significant health issues. Despite this, the Belarusian media stirred up another controversy. But the story doesn't end there, as the athlete shared a photo from a hairdresser who... is from Ukraine.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Tribuna | screen Tribuna

She went to a salon in London run by 38-year-old Sergey Zima, a Ukrainian stylist and winner of international competitions, whom Eastern European sports stars frequent. "Tribune" journalists claim that by doing this, she significantly displeased Alexander Lukashenko's regime, citing the hairdresser's history.

Before the war that Russia has been waging in Ukraine since 24 February 2022, using Belarusian territory, Zima lived and worked in Kyiv— and shortly after the war began, he volunteered. The man admitted that he no longer feared death but had a very strong fear of falling under occupation— because he had witnessed firsthand the "limitless cruelty of the Russians," we read.
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