Victoria Azarenka gave a thorny response to the question about the proliferation of pro-Russian flags at the Australian Open after Novak Djokovic’s father was filmed posing with a Putin flag.
The tennis tournament has been plagued by controversy in the last 24 hours with several fans supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine during Djokovic’s win over Russian star Andrey Rublev.
A spectator was seen wearing a ‘Z’ shirt, symbolizing ultranationalist support for Vladimir Putin, as fans chanted pro-Russian songs outside the Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night.
And footage uploaded to YouTube on Thursday showed Djokovic’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, standing next to a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face attached to it. The man was also wearing a pro-war ‘Z’ symbol.
The Russian and Belarusian flags have been banned from the grand slam, raising concerns about security at the tournament.
But Belarusian star Azarenka, who has won the competition twice, lashed out at questions about the display of Russian flags at Melbourne Park in a frosty exchange with an Australian reporter.
“Whatever the answer I’m going to give it to you right now, it’s going to be turned whichever way you want to turn it to,” Victoria Azarenka said.
She then suggested that real issues in the world bother her over such incidents, before sarcastically asking the concerned journalist whether they are covering politics instead of sports.
“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?” Azarenka went on to say.
Azarenka then expressed added frustration at being asked about issues she had no control over, before opining that her words would eventually be spun by the media to convey something she did not mean.
“And I’m an athlete. You’re asking me about things that maybe somebody says are in my control, but I don’t believe that” continued Azarenka.