Aryna Sabalenka intends to play in the Miami Open following the death of her boyfriend, former ice hockey player Konstantin Koltsov.

Koltsov, who represented Belarus at the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, has died at the age of 42.

He also spent three years in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Compatriot Sabalenka, 25, is seeded second in Miami and due to enter the tournament at the second-round stage later this week.

She has a first-round bye and will play the winner of Tuesday’s match between Simona Halep and Paula Badosa on Thursday or Friday.

Koltsov was in Miami when he died, in what the Miami-Dade Police Department said was an “apparent suicide”.

“No foul play is suspected,” it added in a statement.

Sabalenka’s father Sergey, also a former ice hockey player, died in 2019 at the age of 43.

World number two Sabalenka described Sergey as her “biggest motivation” when she retained her Australian Open title in January, fulfilling a dream she shared with him to win two Grand Slam titles by the age of 25.

Koltsov retired from playing in 2016 and was assistant coach with Russia Kontinental Hockey League side Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

A statement on the club’s website announcing his death described Koltsov as a “strong and cheerful person” who was “loved and respected by players, colleagues and fans”.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also paid tribute, saying: “The Penguins extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Penguins forward, Konstantin Koltsov.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story you can visit BBC Action Line.



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