Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Belarusian opponent Victoria Azarenka after the second round match at the US Open.

Kostyuk was the most open criticism of the lack of condemnation by Russian and Belarusian players for the invasion of his country.

After Azarenka’s 6-2 6-3 win, 20-year-old Kostyuk didn’t offer her opponent her hand, but extended her racquet for a superficial touch.

Kostyuk said: “I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances I’m in right now. I don’t know of anyone who has publicly condemned the war and their government’s actions, so I don’t feel I can support that.

“We had a great game, don’t get me wrong. She is a great competitor, I respect her as an athlete, but that has nothing to do with her being human.

“People who haven’t watched the game are probably going to bang me and say, ‘She’s so fucked up, thank God Vika beat her, she talks too much and it was a fair score.’ But honestly it was a very tight match. “

Kostyuk chose Azarenka for his profile and role on the WTA Player Council and believes he should have made more effort to speak personally with Ukrainian players.

Azarenka insisted on offering help and support, saying, “I have offered many times through the WTA, because I believe there is some kind of sensitivity. I’ve been told it’s not a good time.

“I’ve never had a close relationship with Marta. In March, when it all happened, I contacted all the (Ukrainian) players I know personally and with whom I still have a good relationship.

“I don’t think forcing myself to talk to someone who may not want to talk to me for different reasons is the right approach. But I offered myself.

“I feel like I got a very clear message from the start, that I am here to try to help, which I have done a lot. Maybe not something people see. And that’s not why I do it.

“I do it for people in need, young people who need clothes, other people who need money or other people who need transportation or whatever. If Marta wants to talk to me – she wrote to me yesterday, I replied. I am open at any time to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize.

“I know he is going through a lot of difficult situations. It is not easy to manage. From my point of view, I wish she had someone to guide her a little better. “

Kostyuk wanted to meet Azarenka on Wednesday to explain that he wasn’t going to shake her hand but the players weren’t in Flushing Meadows at the same time.

On the lack of handshake, Azarenka said: “It didn’t surprise me. I always shake hands with my opponents. I had the same situation with (Ukrainian Dayana) Yastremska in Washington. I’m just going forward. I can’t force anyone to shake my hand. It’s not the most important thing in the world right now. “

Marta Kostyuk reacts during her loss to Victoria Azarenka

Marta Kostyuk reacts during her defeat against Victoria Azarenka (Julia Nikhinson / AP)

Tennis has been looking for the best way to handle the situation in Ukraine. Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon and construction tournaments, but were otherwise allowed to play under a neutral flag, to the disgust of Kostyuk and other Ukrainian players.

On the eve of the US Open, Kostyuk revealed that she refused to participate in a fundraiser for Ukraine in Flushing Meadows because Azarenka was supposed to attend, although she was subsequently banned from the event.

“My nation is being killed every day,” Kostyuk said. “Imagine that there is World War II and there is a fundraiser for Jews and that a German player wants to play. During the war, not 70 years after the war. I don’t think the Jews would understand. “

Azarenka believed her participation would be a sign of her support for Ukraine, saying, “When you ask me ‘You are not doing enough, you are not saying enough’, I thought this was a gesture that really shows commitment. why it wasn’t taken that way. “

On the pitch, Azarenka was joined in the third round by world number one Iga Swiatek, who set a scorer with a 6-3 6-2 win over former champion Sloane Stephens.

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