Lesia Tsurenko has called on the WTA to do more to help Ukrainian players after she withdrew from the Indian Wells Masters Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus  ©Getty Images

Ukrainian tennis player Lesla Tsurenko has disclosed that she withdrew from her match against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at Indian Wells yesterday because of a "panic attack". 

It followed a conversation with Women's Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive Steve SImon which prompted her to accuse the organisation of doing little to support Ukrainian players.

Tsurenko had been seen practising her serve on an outside court a few hours before her second round match with Sabalenka, but Indian Wells organisers would only say that she had scratched for "personal reasons."

Ukraine's number three player later revealed that her withdrawal came after a conversation with Simon.

"I was absolutely shocked by what I heard, I just broke down mentally," the 33-year-old Tsurenko told the Great Tennis Ukraine website following her decision to pull out of the top-ranked WTA 1000 event in California.

“He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus support it, then this is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me."

Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko claimed  she withdrew from Indian Wells following conversation with WTA chief executive Steve Simon had left her
Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko claimed she withdrew from Indian Wells following conversation with WTA chief executive Steve Simon had left her "absolutely shocked" ©Getty Images

Russian and Belarus players have been permitted to take part in men’s and women’s tour events but without identification of nationality.

Tsurenko also claimed Simon had predicted that Russian and Belarusian players would also be permitted to take part in next year's Olympic Games in Paris under a neutral flag.

"He expressed confidence that the Russians and Belarusians will return to the Olympics, and said that this will happen exactly as it is happening now in tennis," Tsurenko continued.

"He also said that 'fair play' and Olympic principles were not violated, but on the contrary, the very fact that they will perform at the Olympics will show that these principles work, that everyone is equal and everyone has the opportunity to perform there."

Tsurenko, currently ranked 95th in the world, had achieved unexpected first round victory over Croatia's world number 23 Donna Vekić, which ended in controversy when Vekić refused to offer a handshake.

Tsurenko had spoken to Simon before this match.

"I was completely shocked by this conversation and already in the last game it was incredibly difficult to play," Tsurenko admitted.

In the past year, Tsurenko had pulled out of nine tournaments either before or during matches.

"It was difficult to gather myself and today, when it was time to go to the court, I had a panic attack and I just couldn't go out there," Tsurenko explained.

"I really hope that I will be able to digest all this information and be more ready for the next tournament."

In her conversation with SImon, she also asked the WTA to replicate the support offered to Ukrainian players at the Australian Open in January.

Simon had told her he would continue to "monitor the situation."

"In fact, he made it clear that there would be no help, as there had been none all year," Tsurenko said.

She has now asked for a conference call with WTA Board of Directors to discuss the future.

"How can we further understand that our organisation somehow protects our rights?," Tsurenko said.

"I just don't understand how it happened in this world that such things need to be explained, it is very strange and very painful."

Insidethegames has contacted the WTA for comment.