WATCH: Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake hands with Belarusian Victoria Azarenka after US Open clash
Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Belarusian Victoria Azarenka after facing defeat against her in the ongoing US Open 2022 on Friday.
Tensions flared up in the US Open 2022 on Thursday as Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Belarusian Victoria Azarenka after their second-round clash. Azarenka defeated Kostyuk 6-2,6-2 in straight games before the duo ditched the traditional handshake to just tap their racquets.
While she ditched Azarenka, Kostyuk was seen shaking hands with the chair umpire and other officials. The acrimony over Russia's invasion of Ukraine was felt on the court at the US Open after Kostyuk's action. This is not the first time, the Ukrainian tennis star has taken a stand against Russian and Belarusian athletes.
For the armed forces of Ukraine— JB (@Brar_JSB) September 1, 2022
Kostyuk-Azarenka handshake aka cold racquet tap pic.twitter.com/EJHCp22i19
In April The 20-year-old had led a group of players from Ukraine in demanding the Russian and Belarusian players denounce the war and clarify their stand. The Ukrainian players urged ATP, WTA and the ITF to ban those Russian and Belarusian players who didn't denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's invasion of Ukraine.
Kostyuk, who has been quite vocal against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, had also backed Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the tournament earlier this year. Ahead of her 2nd-round clash against Azarenka, tensions were expected to flare up.
Explaining her refusal to shake hands with Azarenka, Kostyuk said she didn't know a single tennis player from Russia or Belarus who publicly criticised their governments for the war in Ukraine.
“It was my choice, I 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. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great competitor. But, it has nothing to do with her being a human being," Kostyuk said at the post-match presser after her loss against Azarenka.
Azarenka also expressed her thoughts in her post-match presser where she said she is “open any time to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize,” if Kostyuk wanted to speak to her. The Belarusian also said she believes empathy is really important in the present world.