Tennis stars Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur confirm that they will miss Paris Olympics

Damond Isiaka
4 Min Read


CNN
 — 

Two of tennis’ biggest stars have announced that they will skip the Olympic Games in Paris next month.

World No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka told reporters in Berlin at the Ecotrans Ladies Open she was skipping the Olympics, citing WTA tournament participation requirements and her health.

The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach illness during her French Open quarterfinal loss to Mirra Andreeva on June 5, her first defeat before the semifinals of a major since 2022. Tennis at this year’s Olympics will take place on the clay at Roland Garros.

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Had Sabalenka elected to compete at the Games, she would have been entered as an Individual Neutral Athlete, provided she passed an eligibility review. Belarusian and Russian athletes are prohibited from competing under their nations’ flags due to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The two-time grand slam champion is the No. 2 seed in the Berlin grass-court tournament this week as she prepares for Wimbledon. This will be her first tournament since the French Open.

World No. 10 and three-time grand slam finalist Ons Jabeur also confirmed that she will miss the Games next month, writing on social media that the change of surfaces would put her health at risk. The Tunisian has been dealing with a recurring knee injury.

Jabeur leaves the court after her French Open quarterfinal loss to Coco Gauff.

After the clay court season concluded at the French Open, players will now spend the next few weeks playing on grass, a much faster and often slippery surface.

The WTA grass court season ends at Wimbledon, with the majority of tournaments throughout rest of the calendar typically being staged on hard courts. However, with the Olympics being held at Roland-Garros, a switch back to the physically taxing clay offers a challenge.

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advise.”

Sabalenka and Jabeur join Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu in opting not to compete at the Olympics.

As a former grand slam winner, Raducanu was offered a wild card spot in the tournament, which would have given her automatic entry into the Games despite her current ranking of No. 165. However, she turned it down saying it wasn’t the “right time” for her this year.

“With the changing surface, it’s just not worth the risk for me at this point,” Raducanu said.

Raducanu had dropped out of French Open qualifying to work on building her fitness. Choosing to focus on the grass-court and hard-court portions of the season seemed to pay off, as Raducanu reached the semifinals at the Rothesay Open, a Wimbledon tune-up event, last week.

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