When Sports Meets Politics: The Marta Kostyuk-Mira Andreeva Saga

The Ukrainian woman refused to go on the field to play against the Russian woman, and then an incredible case happened, the organizers sent a man to play instead of her

by Sededin Dedovic
When Sports Meets Politics: The Marta Kostyuk-Mira Andreeva Saga
© Christopher Pike / Getty Images

Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk, currently ranked 39th in the WTA rankings, made headlines when she decided to withdraw from the final of an exhibition tournament in France when she heard that she would face Russia's Mira Andreeva.

Marta openly talks about Russian aggression against her homeland since that unfortunate war began. This unexpected move infuriated the organizers of the tournament, especially considering that Marta was aware of the possibility of facing the Russian player.

She knew even before the tournament that such a possibility existed. In a statement, the organizers expressed their disappointment with Marta's decision, citing geopolitical tensions as the reason for her withdrawal. "For reasons that have nothing to do with us and the geopolitical situation in Ukraine, Marta will not play against Mira.

We did everything to activate our network of professional players, but we did not have enough time to find a replacement. That is why our Janis Gazzuani Duran will play against her ", the announcement said. They managed to find a replacement, but not a tennis woman player who would play against Andreeva, instead they sent man tennis player Janis, who is 1,146 on the ATP list, to the court.

Ironically, Janis Gazzuani Duran is the player who defeated Marta 2-0 in sets (7:5, 6:2), adding an unexpected twist to the final match of the tournament.

Sportswoman "proud" of anti-aircraft defense

Marta's decision to retire is not the first time she has expressed strong views off the tennis court.

Throughout the season, she reportedly refused to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian players and made public statements unrelated to the sport. "I'm proud of our air defenses and how they hit everything 100 percent. I don't know, it's a part of life that I can't explain," Marta said in one of her previous remarks, reflecting on her outspoken stance on certain political issues.

Marta Kostyuk's decision undoubtedly added a layer of controversy to the exhibition tournament in France, fueling debate about the role of athletes in geopolitical conflicts. But the organizers of the tournament can be satisfied in the end because this turned out to be a very good marketing move, because this news resonated around the world.

Marta Kostyuk