Victoria Azarenka: Belarusian to miss Tennis Plays for Peace exhibition

Victoria Azarenka hits a ball
Victoria Azarenka has won the Australian Open twice

Belarusian Victoria Azarenka will not play in this week's Tennis Plays for Peace exhibition in New York "given sensitivities to Ukrainian players" and the ongoing war in their country.

Tennis Plays for Peace is "supporting the humanitarian relief efforts" after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is a key ally of Russia.

Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon but are able to compete at next month's US Open.

Announcing Azarenka's withdrawal, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said there had been "careful consideration and dialogue with all parties".

It added: "Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate.

"Given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the ongoing conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us."

The Tennis Plays for Peace initiative - organised by tennis' governing bodies and its four Grand Slam tournaments - has so far raised more than $1m (£850,000).

Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek and John McEnroe are among those who will play in the exhibition at the Louis Armstrong Stadium.

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