Ukrainian ex-tennis star in leaked row with ex-pros over Russia war

Ukraine: Nursery struck by Russian missiles in Bakhmut

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Tennis star-turned-volunteer soldier Sergiy Stakhovsky has shared the unabashed responses from two fellow athletes who were criticised for playing in Russia. Serbs Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic are currently playing at the Trophies of Northern Palmyra 2022, an exhibition event in St. Petersburg that got underway on Thursday.

Although the draw is made up mostly of native talent, others have faced scrutiny for attending amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. But Troicki and Tipsarevic showed little remorse in WhatsApp messages posted by Ukrainian Stakhovsky, who told his peers he was “disappointed” to see “money can buy it all.”

“To be in the country of my grandparents is priceless! You are an Instagram clown who confused money with politics,” replied 36-year-old Troicki. “This has nothing to do with the war, but since you mentioned it, me and my country went through all the s*** and never ever got support! So please shut the f*** up [clown emoji].”

Stakhovsky, also 36, went viral earlier in 2022 when it emerged he had volunteered in Ukraine’s efforts against Russia, leaving a wife and three young children behind in Budapest. Other Ukrainian sports stars like boxer Oleksandr Usyk and fellow tennis star Elina Svitolina have also contributed to the country’s war efforts.

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“Lovely, enjoy it,” he told Troicki in response. “It’s better to be (an) Instagram clown defending your country, than be a Russian money b***h.”

Tipsarevic gave a similarly spiky reply following Stakhovsky’s assertion that “money (is) above morals.” The Belgrade native made reference to the Kosovo War and asked why there wasn’t a similar intervention during Yugoslavia’s occupation of Kosovo at the time.

“Really? How about this Mr Instagram Freedom Fighter,” replied Tipsarevic. “Did you or any of your f****** family members boycott or protest in any capacity when NATO forces bombed my country, my family and my people somewhat 20 years ago. . .”


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Russia’s siege on Ukraine has proved a divisive topic in sporting circles. Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points in 2022 after the major opted to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from competing.

The United Nations recently published findings that a total of 6,655 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion in late February, with a further 10,400 injured. Stakhovsky—who won four ATP singles titles during his career—continues to post regular updates supporting Ukraine’s military efforts via Instagram.

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