Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka from Belarus and opted for a racket tap after their second- round match at the US Open. The former world number one defeated Kostyuk 6-2, 6-3.
The 20-year-old Ukrainian has been one of the loudest voices about the disapproval of players from Russia and Belarus after the invasion by the aforementioned nations of her country. Marta Kostyuk addressed her gesture after the match as she talked about how a handshake wouldn’t be appropriate in the current situation. She further expressed that Azarenka is a great competitor and that she respects her as a tennis player.
“I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances I’m in right now,” Kostyuk said. “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.”
Victoria Azarenka also reacted to the lack of a handshake and talked about how she generally opts to shake hands but was expecting this as she faced a similar situation with Dayana Yastremska in Washington. She said, “I wasn’t surprised. I always shake hands with my opponents. I had the same situation with [Ukrainian player 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.”