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Tennis-Azarenka of Belarus ravaged by Ukraine violence

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FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 23, 2022 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts during her 4th round match against Barbora Krejcikova REUTERS/Morgan Sette of the Czech Republic

March 3, 2022

Former tennis world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus says she is heartbroken by the suffering of people amid violence in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion last week.

The invasion has killed more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians and destroyed hundreds of structures including homes, hospitals, kindergartens and transport facilities, Ukraine’s emergency services said on Wednesday.

Azarenka said on Twitter: “I am devastated by the actions that have taken place over the past few days against and in Ukraine.

“It is heartbreaking to see how many innocent people have been affected and continue to be affected by such violence.”

Belarus is a close ally of Russia and a key area for Russian forces to conduct the invasion, which Russia calls a “special operation”.

“Since my childhood, I have always seen and experienced the people of Ukraine and Belarus, as well as both countries, friendly and supportive of each other,” said the 32-year-old.

“It’s hard to see the violent separation currently unfolding instead of supporting and finding compassion for each other.”

Since the beginning of the invasion, Russian and Belarusian teams and athletes have been excluded from international competitions across sports.

Tennis authorities this week banned them from competing under their country’s name and flag.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Azarenka says she prays for peace.

“My heart is with everyone directly and indirectly affected by the war that is causing pain and suffering to so many people,” Azarenka said.

“I hope and wish for peace and an end to war.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine since the invasion was launched a week ago, in what looks to be Europe’s biggest refugee crisis this century and millions of refugees. people to evacuate.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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