World No 1 Iga Swiatek asked for her views about Rafael Nadal’s controversial Saudi Arabia role
Iga Swiatek admitted it was hard for her to have an opinion on Rafael Nadal’s decision to take up a role with the Saudi Tennis Federation while she also believes tennis authorities should “take responsibility” if there is a backlash over tournaments being staged in Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, tennis great Nadal dropped a big bombshell as he revealed he has taken up the role of ambassador with the Saudi Tennis Federation (STF).
Fans were outraged as many believe Saudi Arabia is using its sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, to hide the country’s awful human rights abuse record and its strict anti-homosexuality laws, among other things.
PIF has been accused of sportswashing following major investments in football and golf over the past few years and it has turned its attention to tennis.
The country was also awarded the rights to stage the Next Generation ATP Finals over the next few years with talk that the WTA Finals could follow suit while it is also reportedly on the verge of a big investment in the ATP Tour.
During the press conference world No 1 Swiatek was asked “Rafael Nadal is going to be the ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation given the nation’s track record on human rights, especially with women, how does that sit with you? Is that something you are comfortable with?”
She replied: “Honestly I didn’t know that this was the case [of Nadal joining]. It’s hard. Everything that’s going on in the sport is not black and white and it’s hard for me to sum up in one sentence if I don’t know.
“There were a lot of rumours about WTA Finals going to Saudi Arabia and we’re still waiting for the decision. It was always hard for me to say if it’s good or not because it’s not easy for women in these areas, but obviously these countries also want to change and improve politically and sociologically.
“In terms of many events that were held, there were rumours about sportswashing. I have nothing to do with Rafa and his decisions, in my case it should be up to the federations and the governing bodies who decide if we (the players) are going to play there or not. If there would be some negative backlash, they should take the responsibility.
“It’s hard to straightforwardly go one way and say anything. I don’t know about Rafa’s decision, but obviously men’s sport is already there in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know if it’s a good decision or not. I am trying not to be too upfront.”
READ MORE: Rafael Nadal blasted after becoming new Saudi Arabia tennis ambassador – ‘I guess the money was talking’
Daria Kasatkina slams officials and calls for VAR over Andrey Rublev default
Daria Kasatkina feels her compatriot Andrey Rublev was hard done by at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
Horrible twist hits Jack Draper and denies him a chance to make a huge rankings leap
Draper was competing strongly with world No 9 Alex De Minaur in a high-quality semi-final contest – but it all ended quickly.
Nick Kyrgios gives his verdict on Andrey Rublev’s sensational Dubai disqualification
Nick Kygios responds as Andrey Rublev’s disqualification in Dubai rocks tennis.
Mega numbers confirm Rafael Nadal is hammering Novak Djokovic in the popularity stakes
Rafael Nadal has a total social media reach to over 50million.
Katie Boulter set for huge rankings breakthrough after landmark victory
British No 1 Boulter beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-4 6-3 at the San Diego Open.
Emma Raducanu handed another wild card as she aims to silence her doubters
Raducanu set to play in Indian Wells and Miami despite lowly ranking.
Daniil Medvedev suffers rankings hammer blow after Dubai defeat – and it could get worse
Medvedev set to lose 300 ranking points after defeat against Ugo Humbert.
Did Andrey Rublev get rough justice after extraordinary disqualification in Dubai?
World No 5 Andrey Rublev was sensationally defaulted after being accused of swearing at a line judge.
WATCH: Angry Andrey Rublev thrown out of Dubai tournament amid amazing scenes
Rublev screamed into the race of the official as he insisted a ball on the baseline should have been called out.
How the ‘rebranding’ of Novak Djokovic could reap handsome rewards
Novak Djokovic has taken a fresh approach to his public relations in the last year.