Aryna Sabalenka’s boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov dies, aged 42

Aryna Sabalenka’s boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov has died at the age of 42.

Koltsov, a former ice hockey player who competed in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, had been a regular presence supporting Sabalenka at tournaments.

He was in Miami when he died, and the Miami-Dade Police Department said in a statement: “According to investigators, on Monday, March 18, 2024, at approximately 12:39am, Bal Harbour Police and Fire Rescue were dispatched to the St Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

“The Miami-Dade Police Department, Homicide Bureau, responded and has taken over the investigation of the apparent suicide of Mr Konstantin Koltsov. No foul play is suspected.”

The world number two frequently referenced Koltsov on social media in pictures and messages.

The news was announced by Russia ice hockey team Salavat Yulaev Ufa, where Koltsov had been assistant coach.

A statement on the club’s website read: “It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that Salavat Yulaev coach Konstantin Koltsov has passed away. 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. Koltsov won the Russian Championship and the Gagarin Cup as part of Salavat Yulaev and did a great job on the team’s coaching staff.

“The hockey club Salavat Yulaev expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Konstantin Evgenievich Koltsov.”

Koltsov represented Belarus at the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics and was also a coach of the national team.

A statement on the federation’s website read: “The Belarusian Hockey Federation expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends and everyone who knew and worked with Konstantin Evgenievich.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins also paid tribute, saying in a statement on their website: “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.”

Pictures showed tributes to Koltsov outside Ufa Arena laid by fans of Salavat Yulaev.

Sabalenka, who won her second grand-slam title at the Australian Open in January, is in Miami and due to play her first match at the Miami Open later this week.

She has yet to say whether she will be withdrawing from the event, and footage on social media showed her practising on Tuesday.

It is the second tragedy to hit the 25-year-old Belarusian, whose father Sergey, also a former ice hockey player, died in 2019 at the age of 43.

Sabalenka’s victory at the Australian Open fulfilled the dream she shared with her father of winning two slam titles by the age of 25 and, speaking in Melbourne, she said: “It was really important. Of course he’s my biggest motivation. He’s been everything for me.”