Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk declines handshake with Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka

The coldest match at the U.S. Open ended Thursday at Course 17, as Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka defeated Ukraine’s Marta Azarenka 6-2, 6-3 in straight sets. Kostyuk.

At the end of the second round, Kostyuk approached the net and only handed the racquet to Azarenka, who was celebrating. Azarenka slapped his racquet quickly before the two shook hands with the referee.

It was a brief moment, but a prime example of how the war in Ukraine is still being felt in sports.

World No. 65 Kostyuk has been outspoken about the war in Ukraine, in which Belarus, closely allied with Russia, has unprovoked attacks on their neighbors, while Russian and Ukrainian players have remained silent on the tour.

That includes friction with Azarenka, who was removed from the USTA’s Ukraine peace affair last week after Kostyuk expressed dissatisfaction with her involvement.

Kostyuk and Azarenka explain U.S. Open embarrassment

According to British media i, Kostyuk said after the game that she tried to contact Azarenka, but the former world number one had already left Flushing Meadows:

“I really wanted to warn her that I wasn’t going to shake her hand because she never came to me, at least in person, and didn’t tell me her opinion, and what she thought…it didn’t happen. So I don’t think I’m going to go to her and try to have a conversation.”

She added: “I just don’t think [shaking her hand is] Doing the right thing in my current situation. I have no idea. It’s just my choice.

“We had a great game, don’t get me wrong. She’s a great competitor and I respect her as an athlete, but it’s not about her [as] one person. “

Kostyuk, a native of Kyiv, whose friends and family still live in Ukraine, is in the seventh month of trying to push back Russian and Belarusian forces.

Sep 1, 2022; Flushing, NY, USA; Victoria Azarenka (left) during the second round match on Day 4 of the 2022 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center We were greeted by Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Victoria Azarenka and Marta Kostyuk ended embarrassingly in the second round of the US Open. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

For her part, Azarenka told reporters after the game She had contacted the WTA to have a conversation with the Ukrainian athlete, but was turned down. She said she never had a close relationship with Kostyuk, but sent messages of support to other Ukrainian players she met in March and offered to meet Kostyuk face-to-face.

She also said she has quietly offered assistance to those affected:

“I feel like I’ve had a very clear message from the beginning that I’m here to try and help, and I’ve done a lot. Maybe not what people see. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m here for those [are] There are those in need, those who need clothes, those who need money, those who need transportation, and so on. It’s important to me to help people in need.

“If Marta wanted to talk to me – like she texted me yesterday, and I replied – I’m always ready to listen, try to understand, empathize. I believe empathy is really important in times like this, which has, Again, that was my clear message from the beginning. I’ll stick to that because what’s going on in the world right now is very difficult, but we shouldn’t forget that we’re all human and that’s how we should treat each other.”

Azarenka, who called for peace shortly after the Russian invasionwas one of several Russian and Belarusian players banned from Wimbledon in response to the war.

She also hit back at Kostyuk’s claim that she didn’t fully use her voice in the WTA Players Council to condemn the war (“IMHO I don’t think she knows what I’m doing in the players committee because she’s not there“) and expressed confusion as to why she was expelled from the “peace in Ukraine” incident:

“I [was] The USTA called to ask if I would be participating. This is a no-brainer for me. Like, why am I not involved in providing humanitarian aid to those who are really struggling right now? At that moment, I didn’t even think about it.

When you ask “You don’t do enough, you don’t talk enough”, I think it’s a gesture of real commitment. I’m not sure why it’s not going this way.

Azarenka is scheduled to face Petra Matic in the third round on Saturday.

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