Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk Refuses To Shake Hands With Belarusian Victoria Azarenka At US Open Over Ukrainian War Issues

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Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk fell to former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the US Open. As the two met at the net following match point, Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Belarusian opponent.

The two tapped rackets across the net following the match.

Kostyuk has not only been vocal in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but she’s also made it clear she’s unhappy with Russian and Belarusian players’ silence on the matter. With that being the case, she didn’t think it was appropriate to shake Azarenka’s hand.

“It was my choice — I don’t feel like 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,” Kostyuk said after the match.

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

Russian and Belarusian players were banned from playing in Wimbledon this year.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 01: Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine at the US Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Ukrainian player Dayana Yastremska, who fled Ukraine after the invasion, refused to shake hands with Azarenka following their match earlier this summer.

During her post-match press conference, Kostyuk explained she had texted Azarenka Wednesday after her practice session to “warn her” that she will not shake hands with her after the match today.

Kostyuk said she wanted to have a broader conversation with Azarenka on the war. She explained Azarenka responded that she was not on-site, and so they did not have the conversation.

“I’m open to any time to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize. I believe that empathy in the moment like this is really important, which has, again, been my clear message in the beginning,” Azarenka said during her post-match session with the media.

Written by Mark Harris

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