Miami | Sabalenka breaks silence over ex-boyfriend’s death

World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka broke her silence over the death of her former boyfriend, Konstantin Koltsov, in a statement on Wednesday.

She's one of my best friends. Of course, I know what she's going through. Honestly, for me, it hasn't been easy, too. I really don't know what to say, honestly. She's a strong woman. I think she will get the power from somewhere. Paula Badosa

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

The statement was the first mention that the couple had split up.

Koltsov’s death in the early hours of Monday morning was an apparent suicide according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“According to investigators on Monday, March 18, 2024, at approximately 12:39 am, Bal Harbour Police and Fire Rescue were dispatched to the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, 9703 Collins Avenue, in reference to a male that jumped from a balcony,” the statement issued on Tuesday read.

“The Miami-Dade Police Department, Homicide Bureau, responded and has taken over the investigation of the apparent suicide of Mr. Konstantin Koltsov (04/17/1981). No foul play is suspected.”

The news of former professional ice hockey player’s death sent shockwaves through the Miami Open where Sabalenka is scheduled to play her opening match on Friday against Paula Badosa.

Koltsov, 42, parts of three seasons with the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins between 2003 and 2006, and also played for Belarus at two Winter Olympic Games – Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010 – as well as 9 world championships.

Sabalenka and Koltsov were first linked in June 2021, and the World No 2 frequently posted photos of them together on her Instagram account.

“I love you @koltsov2021,” she wrote in one post that included heart and other emojis.

Koltsov also was on hand to applaud Sabalenka when the Belarusian won her second consecutive Australian Open title in January.

The couple had not publicly revealed they had broken up. Koltsov had 3 children with his wife, Julia, whom he divorced in 2020 before he began a relationship with Sabalenka.

Aryna Sabalenka (L) will play her best friend Paula Badosa (R) on Friday at the Miami Open

© Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Sabalenka has been practising at the tournament, wearing all black, and is slated to play her best friend, Badosa, on Friday in the 2nd-round after receiving a 1st-round bye.

“She’s one of my best friends,” Badosa said on Tuesday of Sabalenka. “Of course, I know what she’s going through. Honestly, for me, it hasn’t been easy, too. I really don’t know what to say, honestly. She’s a strong woman. I think she will get the power from somewhere.

“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.

“At the same point playing against her, it’s also uncomfortable.”

Meanwhile, players on the WTA Tour have been expressing their support for Sabalenka.



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