20 Mar, 2024 @ 15:57
1 min read

Tennis tragedy: Spain’s Paula Badosa must battle against ‘best friend’ Aryna Sabalenka – who lost her boyfriend to suicide this week

SPANISH tennis star Paula Badosa has admitted that she will play the most difficult match of her career this week when she meets her best friend Aryna Sabalenka on the court this Friday, just days after the world No.2 lost her boyfriend to suicide.

Born in New York to Spanish parents, Badosa, 26, will play 25-year old Sabalenka in the second round of the Miami Open after defeating Simona Halep 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

However, the encounter between two best friends has been overshadowed by tragedy.

Konstantin Koltsov, Sabalenka’s boyfriend and a former Belarussian ice hockey player, was found dead aged 43 in an ‘apparent suicide’ this week.

Sabalenka with her boyfriend, Konstantin Koltsov. Credit: Instagram

Officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department attended the St Regis Bal Harbour Resort, a five-star hotel in Miami Beach, in the early hours of Monday morning.

Koltsov, who had been with Sabalenka for close to three years, had been accompanying his girlfriend before the tournament began – he had likewise been in attendance in Melbourne in January, where the Belarussian star successfully defended her Australian Open title.

The death of Salabenka’s boyfriend comes just five years after her father Sergey, also a professional ice hockey player, suddenly died from meningitis aged 43.

In a press conference, Badosa said: “It is a total shock. At the end of the day she is my best friend and the last thing I want is for her to suffer. It’s a really complicated and difficult situation. Aryna is a strong woman and doubtless she will draw strength from somewhere. I hope for a good game, but that is not the most important thing”.

The Catalan star also expressed her desire for Sabalenka’s privacy to be respected.

Badosa and Sabalenka are best friends but must compete against each other in a match marred by tragedy. Credit: Instagram

“I know what is happening, we have spoken about it, but I promised her I wouldn’t say anything about her situation, I’m sorry”, she told journalists in Miami.

Sabalenka is understood to have requested as late a start as possible for her opening match after she received a bye for the first round.

She has been seen warming up near the Hard Rock Stadium, although reports indicate she will not conduct any interviews or press conferences during her participation in the tournament.

Badosa and Sabalenka have known each other since junior competitions, and even played as a double pairing in Miami two years ago.

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Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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