Kaia Kanepi: I will not go along with campaign aimed at dividing people

Kaia Kanepi.
Kaia Kanepi. Source: SCANPIX / ZUMAPRESS.com

Estonian tennis player Kaia Kanepi has said she will not go along with any divisive campaigns aimed at fracturing inter-personal relationships. Kanepi has faced strong criticism in her home country over her choice of doubles partner, Angelina Gabueva, of Russia.

Gabueva competes under a neutral flag, while she and Kanepi are to compete in the doubles at the impending French Open, the second grand slam tournament of the year.

Kanepi's former coach, Valdo Randpere, told daily Postimees (link in Estonian) he drew parallels to a hypothetical situation were Estonia to come under similar attack, as a means of explaining Russian culpability in the Ukraine war, but told the daily he was met with the response that the U.S. also bear responsibility in the outbreak of war, and that the world is as it is at present.

Randpere also spoke of a determination from the veteran player even off-court: "When she gets something into her head, it stays there. Now, she has put it in her head that war means nothing – and she will not let go of that," he said.

Postimees approached Kanepi on Wednesday, en route at the time to Paris for the French Open starting next week, for comment, submitting eight questions on her doubles pairing with Gabueva and her views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"I don't engage in politics and don't go along with a campaign to divide interpersonal relationships," she told the daily.

Kanepi met plenty of push-back about her partnership with Gabueva, which began in the recent WTA tournament in Strasbourg, when the pair went out in round one after losing to Chinese duo Su-Wei Hsieh and Wang Xinyu.

Secretary General of the Estonian Tennis Association Allar Hint, and chair of the Estonian Olympic Committee (EOK) Urmas Sõõrumaa (link in Estonian) have both condemned the alliance, while the player was ridiculed by an anonymously authored online satire site, which stated in an article that her racquet was more intelligent than she was.

Kaia Kanepi, 37, from Haapsalu, has reached the quarter finals of all four grand slam tournaments during her long career, most recently in 2017 (U.S. Open). Her highest ever WTA ranking is 15th.

She is currently ranked 76th in the world, after breaking back into the top 30 last year. Kanepi was for several months this year Estonia's top-ranked player, while Anett Kontaveit recovered from injury.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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