Tennis world number 2 Sabalenka heartbroken over Konstantin Koltsov’s death

Sabalenka’s match at the Miami Open moved back by a day following the death of her former boyfriend Koltsov.

Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, walks onto a practice court at the Miami Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Aryna Sabalenka practised on an outside court at the Miami Open [Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo]

Tennis world number two Aryna Sabalenka has described the death of her former boyfriend as an “unthinkable tragedy” as she commented for the first time since the apparent suicide of Konstantin Koltsov.

The Miami-Dade police department confirmed on Tuesday that they had responded to a call the day before at a Miami resort about reports of a man jumping off a balcony. The police said no foul play was suspected.

The news of former professional ice hockey player Koltsov’s death sent a shockwave through the Miami Open.

“Konstantin’s death is an unthinkable tragedy, and while we were no longer together, my heart is broken,” Sabalenka said in a statement through her publicists on Wednesday. “Please respect my privacy and his family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

Aryna Sabalenka Instagram screenshot
Aryna Sabalenka posted a statement on her Instagram account [Screengrab Instagram]

Players on the Women’s Tennis Association have expressed their support for the Belarusian, who, on Tuesday, practised on an outside court and has given no indication of withdrawing from the tournament.

The two-time Grand Slam winner is due to play in the second round against Spaniard Paula Badosa. The match has been moved back by a day and is now scheduled for Friday.

Badosa is a close friend of Sabalenka’s and said the match would be “uncomfortable”.

“I know the entire situation, what is happening. That for me is a little bit shocking also to go through that because at the end she’s my best friend, and I don’t want her to suffer. It’s a very tough situation,” she added. “At the same point playing against her, it’s also uncomfortable.”

Koltsov’s playing career included a stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL, where he made 144 appearances between 2003 and 2006.

He also played for Belarus at two Winter Olympic Games – Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010 – as well as nine world championships.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, these organisations may be able to help:

Source: News Agencies