Marta Kostyuk: Ukrainian tennis player chose not to shake hands with Belarusian opponent Victoria Azarenka at US Open

Kostyuk had texted Azarenka before the second-round match that he intended to decline the usual post-fight handshake, given Belarus’ role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The pair instead tapped their rackets at the net at the end of the match, with Azarenka winning 6-2 6-3.

“It was my choice. I don’t think I can support this because I can’t believe I don’t know a single person who has publicly condemned the war and government actions,” said 20-year-old Kostyuk. ESPN.

“Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great competitor. But that has nothing to do with her being human,” she added.

Kostyuk is one of several Ukrainian athletes who have called on Russian and Belarusian athletes to condemn the Russian government’s decision to invade Ukraine if they want to compete in international competition.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The country was used as a launch site for Russian forces in February, and NATO officials say the “majority” of Russian air operations in Ukraine are launched from Belarus. said before His country was “dragged” into the war.

“I wasn’t surprised. I don’t think it’s important to do anything big,” Azarenka told reporters at the handshake, adding that she also shook hands with Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in Washington last month. .

“I always shake hands with my opponents…that’s what it is.I just move on.I can’t force anyone to shake hands.It’s their decision.” How did that make me feel? It’s not the most important thing… the world right now.”

Ahead of this year’s US Open, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that Azarenka was excluded from participating in the US Open. “Tennis for Peace” Event Raise funds for Ukraine.

“Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate. Given the sensitivity and ongoing conflict with Ukrainian players, we believe this is the right course of action for us.” A USTA statement said:

On Thursday, Azarenka said she would “always listen, try to understand and empathize” with Ukrainian players.

A two-time Grand Slam champion, Azarenka has reached three US Open finals.

“I believe it’s really important to be empathetic in moments like this. That was also my clear message at the beginning,” she continued.

“I stand by what is happening in the world right now because it is very difficult, but we must remember that we are all human and we must treat each other as such. Hmm.

This isn’t the first time tennis has become entwined with geopolitics after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian players competing under the neutral flag at the US Open were banned from competing at Wimbledon earlier this year. fragmentaryand the governing bodies of tennis, Remove Ranking Points from Tournaments.

Azarenka, a three-time US Open finalist, faces Croatia’s Petra Martic in the third round on Saturday.


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