Russia’s No1-ranked singles tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has called on her nation to “stop the violence, stop the war” amid the continued invasion of Ukraine.
While sanctions to Vladimir Putin’s nation have come from the business and finance world, the EU and Nato, the world of sport has also opposed the acts of aggression with refusals to face Russia or their teams.
Now a notable selection of star athletes from Russia have also taken to social media and press conferences to signal their own horror at the actions of their own nation, with Pavlyuchenkova following the likes of fellow tennis stars Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev and international football striker Fyodor Smolov.
Pavlyuchenkova is the top Russian in women’s singles and is ranked 14 in the world – while in mixed doubles she won the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer, alongside Rublev representing the Russian Olympic Committee, with Russia banned from competing as a nation.
“I’ve been playing tennis since I was a kid. I have represented Russia all my life. This is my home and my country. But now I am in complete fear, as are my friends and family,” she wrote on Twitter.
“But I am not afraid to clearly state my position. I am against war and violence.
“Personal ambitions or political motives cannot justify violence. This takes away the future not only from us, but also from our children. I am confused and do not know how to help in this situation.
“I’m just an athlete who plays tennis. I am not a politician, not a public figure, I have no experience in this. I can only publicly disagree with these decisions taken and openly talk about it.
“Stop the violence, stop the war.”
Last week Rublev wrote “No war please” on a camera lens after he won his match in Dubai, en route to taking the title.
“In these moments you realize that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affects me. Because what’s happening is much more terrible,” Rublev said at the time.
“You realise how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what and to be united. We should take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.”
Medvedev, meanwhile, added he was “all for peace” while playing in Mexico. “By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries. I’ve been in so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news,” he said.