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US Open: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka's hand
US Open: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka's hand
US Open: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka's hand
Tennis US Open: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka's hand

US Open: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka’s hand

US Open: After their US Open second-round encounter, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk declined to shake the hand of her Belarusian opponent Victoria Azarenka.

Kostyuk has been the most outspoken opponent of the players from Russia and Belarus’ silence on the invasion of her nation.

The 20-year-old Marta Kostyuk did not extend her hand to Azarenka after the Russian’s 6-2, 6-3 victory; instead, she held out her racket for a quick tap.

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 any single person who condemned the war publicly, and the actions of their government so I don’t feel like I can support this.

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

“People who didn’t watch the match will probably slam me and tell me, ‘She’s such a b***h, thank God Vika beat her, she talks too much, and it was a fair score’. But it was honestly a super close match.”

The players weren’t there at Flushing Meadows at the same time as Kostyuk, who wanted to meet Azarenka on Wednesday to explain why she wouldn’t shake her hand.

On the lack of a handshake, Azarenka said: “I wasn’t surprised. I always shake hands with my opponents. I had the same situation with [Ukrainian Dayana] Yastremska in Washington. I just move on. I cannot force anybody to shake my hand. It’s not the most important thing in the world right now.”

Tennis has been considering the best course of action for the Ukraine crisis. Kostyuk and other Ukrainian athletes were outraged that Russian and Belarusian athletes were permitted to play under a neutral flag despite being barred from Wimbledon and the tournaments leading up to it.

On the day of the US Open, Kostyuk disclosed that she had turned down an opportunity to participate in a fundraiser for Ukraine in Flushing Meadows because Azarenka was scheduled to attend, even though she was ultimately barred from attending.

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

Azarenka believed her participation would have been a sign of her support for Ukraine, saying: “When you are asking, ‘You’re not doing enough, you’re not saying enough, I thought that this was a gesture that really shows commitment. I’m not sure why it wasn’t taken in that way.”

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