Victoria Azarenka news sparks tennis debate in US Open furore

Victoria Azarenka (pictured) speaking after finishing runner-up at the US Open.
Victoria Azarenka (pictured) has withdrawn from the Ukraine charity event ahead of the US Open after backlash. (Getty Images)

Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka will no longer take part in the US Open Ukrainian charity match due to swift backlash over her participation.

This week, held on Ukraine's Independence Day, a 'Tennis Plays for Peace' exhibition event will take place before the US Open to help raise money for Ukraine.

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However, Azarenka's inclusion caused a stir.

Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk slammed US Open organisers for including Azarenka and claimed players hadn't been consulted about Belarusian representatives being included.

Belarus helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine back in February.

And only hours before the fundraiser, US Open officials announced Azarenka wouldn't take part in the New York charity event after consulting the player.

"In the last 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not be participating ... this evening," the statement read.

"Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate.

"Given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the ongoing conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us.”

Tennis world reacts to Victoria Azarenka exclusion

The tennis world had mixed reactions over the announcement.

Many felt Azarenka's initial inclusion was a big move from a Belarusian tennis player in support of Ukraine.

However, others claimed US Open officials should have handled the situation better and spoken to Azarenka prior to the incident.

Earlier this week, outspoken Ukrainian player Kostyuk let rip at Azarenka's inclusion at the event.

"When Lesia Tsurenko [of Ukraine] and I found out - I'm only talking about us now, because we didn't ask anyone - so when we found out that there would be representatives of Russia or Belarus at this event, I immediately said that I will not participate in this," she told publication BTU.

Kostyuk said Ukrainians should have been consulted on whether they wanted either Russian or Belarusian players to participate, especially on such a special day for her nation.

Kostyuk questioned why Azarenka was even participating in the first place after not reaching to her.

Ukraine player Marta Kostyuk (pictured left) during a media conference and (pictured right) Victoria Azarenka during a tennis match.
Ukraine player Marta Kostyuk (pictured left) was impressed Victoria Azarenka (pictured right) was included in the Ukraine charity event before the US Open. (Getty Images)

"There was no open help from her in our direction," she added.

"She did not communicate with me, but I know that she communicated with [Ukraine’s] Serhiy Stakhovsky, with [France’s] Gaël Monfils in Madrid.

"There was no dialogue with me personally, although it cannot be said that I was invisible."

Azarenka has won the Australian Open twice, in 2012 and 2013.

She was unable to take part at Wimbledon, along with other tennis players from Belarus and Russia.

However, the US Open didn't follow Wimbledon's lead and will allow players from the aforementioned countries to participate.

Other stars such as Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek and Rafa Nadal will take part in the charity event for Ukraine.

The US Open starts on August 29.

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