Aryna Sabalenka’s ex-boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov dies in Miami, aged 42

The Belarusian former pro ice hockey player was in Florida to support the world No 2 at the Miami Open

Jack Rathborn
Tuesday 19 March 2024 10:13 GMT
Aryna Sabalenka lifts trophy after retaining Australian Open title

Belarusian former ice hockey player Konstantin Koltsov, tennis player Aryna Sabalenka’s former partner, has died at aged 42.

Russian club Salavat Yulaev confirmed the news in a statement on Tuesday, with no cause of death published.

Koltsov was in Florida, where ex-girlfriend Sabalenka is set to play the Miami Open after starring at Indian Wells last week.

Koltsov, who played as a forward, featured for the Belarus national team in two Olympic Games, 2002 and 2010, while he also spent time across three seasons with NHL team Pittsburgh Penguins between 2002 and 2006.

“It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that the coach of Salavat Yulaev, Konstantin Koltsov, has passed away,” Salavat Yulaev said in the statement.

“He was a strong and cheerful person, he was loved and respected by players, colleagues, and fans. Konstantin Evgenievich forever wrote himself into the history of our club.

“May he rest in peace.”

While the Penguins added in a statement: “The Penguins extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Penguins forward, Konstantin Koltsov.

“The native of Belarus was the Penguins’ first-round draft choice in 1999 and was with the team from 2003-2006, playing 144 NHL games. Konstantin was a teammate of both Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux during the 2005-06 season.”

Sabalenka’s father Sergey, a former ice hockey player, passed away suddenly in 2019 at the age of 43 due to meningitis, with the two-time grand slam winner calling him her “biggest motivation” after victory at the Australian Open this year.

Koltsov was renowned for his speed on the ice and represented the Belarus national team at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010.

Konstantin Koltsov in action for Belarus at the IIHF World Men’s Championships
Konstantin Koltsov in action for Belarus at the IIHF World Men’s Championships (Getty Images)

The forward also played 144 times for the Penguins and captured the Russian Super League title during his time with Salavat Yulaev in 2008 before retiring in 2016. A move into coaching soon followed, returning to the Ufa-based Salavat Yulaev as an assistant coach.

Sabalenka and Koltsov reportedly began dating in June 2021, according to People magazine, with the pair featuring frequently on the world number two’s Instagram account.

“I love you @‌koltsov2021,” Sabalenka wrote in one previous post.

“Happy birthday my love. You are my dearest person, my best friend and my strongest support. Peace be with you, strength, patience and health.

“I hope we will have everything we planned I love you.”

Koltsov could be seen applauding Sabalenka in Melbourne in January this year when the Belarusian won her second consecutive Australian Open title.

Sabalenka lost in the last 16 at Indian Wells last week in three sets to Emma Navarro (3-6, 6-3, 2-6) after beating Emma Raducanu in straight sets.

The Tennis Channel has reported she is still intent on playing the Miami Open, but will not speak to the media before or after matches.

Sabalenka’s first round match, against an unconfirmed opponent, is scheduled for Friday in the round of 64.

This article was amended on 20 March 2024. It previously stated that Koltsov was Sabalenka’s boyfriend but she subsequently clarified that they had separated.

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