Sabalenka ‘heartbroken’ over death of former boyfriend



MIAMI (AFP) — World number two Aryna Sabalenka said she was “heart-broken” by the death of her former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov in a statement on Wednesday, March 20, where she revealed they had not been a couple at the time of his death.

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

Koltsov died on Monday, March 18, with Miami police saying he had jumped from the balcony of a room in an resort in an “apparent suicide”.

Koltsov, a former NHL ice hockey player and later coach, was 42-years-old.

He had been in a relationship with Sabalenka for over three years according to media reports.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Sabalenka, 25, is due to play in the second round of the Miami Open on Friday against Spaniard Paula Badosa.

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.”

Players on the WTA 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.

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.

He had three children with his wife Julia, whom he divorced in 2020 before he began a relationship with Sabalenka.

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