Aryna Sabalenka and Konstantin Koltsov had been in a relationship since at least 2021

Aryna Sabalenka and Konstantin Koltsov had been in a relationship since at least 2021 – Instagram

Konstantin Koltsov, the Belarusian former pro ice hockey player and boyfriend of tennis player Aryna Sabalenka, has died at the age of 42, Russian club Salavat Yulaev said in a statement on Tuesday.

Koltsov’s death came just five years after Sabalenka’s father Sergey, a former ice hockey player, died aged just 43.

Koltsov was in Florida with Sabalenka where the world No 2 is scheduled to play in the Miami Open on Friday, having featured at Indian Wells last week.

Forward Koltsov played for the Belarus national team in the 2002 and 2010 Olympics and spent parts of three seasons with the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins from 2002 and 2006.

Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka reacts as she plays against US player Madison Keys during their women's singles quarter-finals tennis match on the tenth day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2023

Sabalenka is the No 2 ranked player in the world – Getty Images/Glyn Kirk

“It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that the coach of Salavat Yulaev, Konstantin Koltsov, has passed away,” Salavat Yulaev, which is based in the Russian city of Ufa, 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.”

Renowned for his speed on the ice, Koltsov won the Russian Super League title with Salavat Yulaev in 2008 and more recently returned to the club as an assistant coach.

Sabalenka and Koltsov were first linked in June 2021, according to People magazine, and the world number two has frequently posted photos of them together on her Instagram account.

“I love you @‌koltsov2021,” she wrote in one post that included heart and other emojis.

“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.”

Konstantin Koltsov #28 of Belarus skates up ice against Slovakia the IIHF World Men's Championships preliminary round game at Wiener Stadthalle on April 30, 2005 in Vienna, Austria

Koltsov played international ice hockey for Belarus – Getty Images/Doug Benc

Koltsov also applauded Sabalenka after the Belarusian won her second consecutive Australian Open title in January.

Sabalenka lost in the last 16 at Indian Wells last week and is scheduled to play her first match at the Miami Open on Friday.

It’s believed Koltsov has three children from a previous relationship, and it remains unclear if Sabalenka will play in the Miami Open at the end of the week.

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