Former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has lashed out at the media in a feisty post-match press conference following her semi-final loss to Elena Rybakina.
The Belarusian star is one of a number of players competing at the tournament as a “neutral athlete” due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
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In the wake of footage emerging of Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan posing for pictures with a group of Vladimir Putin supporters at the Australian Open on Wednesday night, Azarenka was asked about the issue of Russia’s war on Ukraine and how it affected players.
“I don’t know what it has to do with Novak at all, to be fair,” Azarenka said.
“I don’t know what you guys want us to do about it. Like talk about it?
“I don’t know what’s the goal here that it’s continuously brought up.
“These incidents that in my opinion have nothing to do with players, but somehow you keep dragging players into it.”
Azarenka then flipped the interview around when she asked the journalist what the “goal” of the controversial line of questioning was.
“I think you should ask yourself that question, not me,” Azarenka told the journalist.
“ Whatever the answer I’m going to give to you right now, it’s going to be turned whichever way you want to turn it.
“So does it bother me? What bothers me is there are real things that are going on in the world. I don’t know.
“Are you a politician? Are you? Are you covering politics?”
The journalist replied “no”.
Azarenka said the incidents involving Djokovic and the war in Russia were out of her control and have nothing to do with her.
“I’m an athlete,” Azarenka said.
“You’re asking me about things that maybe somebody says are in my control, but I don’t believe that.
“I don’t know what you want me to answer. If it’s a provocative question, then you can spin the story however you want.”