Ukrainian player refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka’s hand

Russia’s war against Ukraine has turned into a cold war on the tennis court between Ukrainians Marta Kostyuk and Victoria Azarenka.

Kostyuk, who has been an outspoken critic of Azarenka, first turned down a Ukrainian charity invitation from the USTA because Azarenka was expected to appear. She refused to shake hands after Azarenka’s 6-2, 6-3 second-round win at the U.S. Open on Thursday.

“I have the same situation [Ukrainian Dayana] Yastremska in Washington. That’s it. I just moved on,” said Azarenka, 32, with a shrug. “I can’t force anyone to shake my hand. This is their decision. How does this make me feel? It’s not the most important thing in the world right now. “

Azarenka is from Belarus, not Russia; but the landlocked country, which borders Ukraine, was a staging ground for Russian troops in the months before the invasion.

“It’s just my choice,” Kostyuk was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “I don’t know anyone who has publicly condemned the war, and the actions of their government, so I don’t think I can support that. We had a great game, don’t get me wrong. She’s a great contender and I respect her As an athlete, but it has nothing to do with her as a person.”

Since hostilities began, there has been a coldness between the two, with Kostyuk tearing up Azarenka. The former world No. 1 punched and screamed after her win at Court 17 on Thursday, her Ukrainian opponent eschewed a handshake and never even condescended to make eye contact, offering only a cold racket Faucet.

Kostyuk, 20, from Kyiv, texted Azarenka on Wednesday to explain her stance and appeared annoyed that the veteran had not contacted her for months.

“I offered it through the WTA many times because I believe there was a sensitivity. I was told it was not a good time,” Azarenka said. “In March, everything happened, I contacted all the players I know personally, and I still have a good relationship with them – I’m talking about the Ukrainian players, of course – and I don’t feel compelled to speak to them. People who don’t want to talk to me for different reasons is the right way. But I propose.

After Azarenka's 6-2, 6-3 second-round win, Victoria Azarenka and Marta Kostyuk touched the racket but did not shake hands.
After Azarenka’s 6-2, 6-3 second-round win, Victoria Azarenka and Marta Kostyuk touched the racket but did not shake hands.
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“I’ve had a very clear message from the beginning that I’m here to help and I’ve done a lot. Maybe not what people see. That’s not what I’m doing; I’m doing it for the needy people, teens who need clothes, other people who need money or need transportation to do it. It’s very important to me to help people in need. If Marta wants to talk to me like she texts me Like text messages, I’ll reply. I’m always willing to listen, try to understand, empathize.”

Kostyuk, who has been critical of Azarenka’s participation in tennis matches to raise money for a peace exhibition for Ukraine, said: “In our direction, she did not help publicly. She did not communicate with me.”

Those comments led to Azarenka not attending charity events, even though she left Belarus many years ago and lives in Boca Raton, Florida. But she showed up on Thursday, far ahead of Kostyuk. The Ukrainian won just two of his nine break points, made 31 unforced errors and said nothing against Azarenka.

“I’m always open to listening. I can’t force people to do things they don’t want to do,” Azarenka said. “But any time, she has my number. She texts me. Like everyone else. Helps people as much as I can. I don’t play the political game, I don’t play the media game: that’s not what I’m here for .I am a very direct person.

“I don’t take detours. I go straight to the person. Twitter is not the place for discussion. The place for discussion is face-to-face. That’s what I mean. I talk to people, not over the phone or text; face-to-face.”


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