Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, hits balls on a practice court...

Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, hits balls on a practice court at the Miami Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Credit: AP/Rebecca Blackwell

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Aryna Sabalenka said her “heart is broken” by the death of Konstantin Koltsov, asking for privacy for herself and the family of the former Belarusian hockey player she had dated.

Koltsov died Monday at 42 in Miami, days before the second-ranked Sabalenka was set to begin play in the Miami Open. Miami-Dade Police said the death was an apparent suicide and no foul play was suspected.

“Konstantin’s death is an unthinkable tragedy, and while we were no longer together, my heart is broken,” Sabalenka said in a statement released by her publicist Wednesday. “Please respect my privacy and his family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

The 25-year-old Sabalenka, also from Belarus, had a bye in the first round of the tournament. A tournament spokesman said Wednesday the plan is for Sabalenka to play against her good friend Paula Badosa on Friday.

Koltsov played in 144 NHL games for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2003-06 after being selected in the first round of the 1999 draft, putting up 12 goals and 26 assists. He played most of his career in the Russian Superleague, which morphed into the KHL, finishing with Dynamo Minsk in 2015-16 and going into coaching.

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