The 27-year-old French tennis ball player exits the tournament with bitterness in her heart. Following her defeat by opponent Varvava Gracheva, she has opened up about being treated like a prisoner in the bubble after being in contact with an infected person, Benoit Paire. She was among several players who had come into contact with Paire.
Mladenovic regrets joining the tournament after ‘abominable’ treatment due to the coronavirus pandemic
She does not want her to defeat to be the reason for her lamentation but feels she needs to talk about it. This had been the concern of many tennis ballplayers who had opted out of the season. Because of fears of contracting the coronavirus and the strict protocols put in place to curb the spread, the players who had concerns were Andy Murray, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, etc.
Kristina describes the defeat as the most painful in her career and wishes her opponent the best in the future, but that was not what she had wanted to address. Just like her compatriots who had opted out of the tournament, Kristina finally understands their decision. The condition through which she was placed after being in contact with a player who tested positive isn’t very pleasing to her. She expressed regret.
“We are living a nightmare here,” Kristina told reporters in her local language, “I have only one desire, and that is to regain my freedom. We have to fight to have our freedom and even that we don’t have yet. The conditions are atrocious, and if I had known that playing cards for 40 minutes with a player who tested positive, but ultimately negative would have resulted in these consequences, I would never have set foot in this tournament.”
Kristina revealed that she was still confined to a hotel room after thirty negative coronavirus tests and treated like a prisoner and a criminal. According to Chris Widmaier, the spokesperson for the USTA, individuals who have been exposed to the virus must be quarantined for fourteen days and tested regularly. The initial laid down protocols by the association regarding players who had come in contact with Paire were to test players every day rather than once in four days.
The French woman thirty negative tests are enough to give her freedom, but Widmaier said: “quarantining is never easy for anyone. However, this is what the protocols dictate, and we all must abide by those protocols.” It looks like Kristina isn’t up for it, and it is understandable. The pandemic’s prevalence is depressing enough, confining someone to a hotel room for that long is unacceptable.
In the second-round match on Wednesday, Kristina had to say goodbye to the tournament when Gracheva defeated her, an opponent ranked outside the top 100, and playing her very first Grand Slam, which was completely a bummer, to which she admitted. Serving at 6-1 5-1 at the beginning, Kristina was hopeful enough until she ended up losing 1-6 7-6(7-2) 6-0. She is disappointed but does not blame her defeat on the United States Tennis Associations laid down protocols. Who can blame them? They assert that they are doing what’s best for the players and the discipline.
“It’s abominable how they are treating us, but I don’t want that to be an excuse for my defeat.”
“At 5-2, I just collapsed. I have nothing more to say. I’m completely devastated. It’s abominable how they are treating us, but I don’t want that to be an excuse for my defeat. It’s not the United States Tennis Associations fault that I didn’t convert four match points, don’t get me wrong.”
One cannot get Kristina wrong with her argument, but, understandably, frustration can cause a defeat. It’s about time higher-ups learn to communicate with athletes, learn and understand their feelings, educate them as well on the dangers associated with disobeying or overlooking protocols that have been put together with their health in mind.
It is the wish of everyone that the vaccine for the virus will be discovered very soon so that all activities can return to how they were before.