Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka over silence regarding war


NEW YORK — After losing a straight set to former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Belarusian opponent. Instead, she raised her racket for a quick tap.

Kostyuk, who expressed her dismay at the silence of Russian and Belarusian players during the tour, said it was not appropriate to shake hands with Azarenka at the post-match press conference.

“It was my choice – I don’t feel like I don’t know a single person who has publicly condemned the war, and the actions of their government, so I don’t feel I can support this,” she told ESPN. .

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

After the Citi Open in Washington DC, Ukrainian player Dayana Yastremska also refused to shake Azarenka’s hand after the game. Yastremska fled Ukraine with her younger sister days after the Russian invasion began in February.

Belarus has been sanctioned by the United States for its “support” and “facilitation” of the invasion.

Kostyuk said that Azarenka has not contacted her to hold a conversation since the beginning of the war. Kostyuk said Azarenka’s outreach both in Belarus and as part of the WTA Players’ Council, she should use her voice to condemn the war.

Kostyuk also said she texted Azarenka after her practice session on Wednesday to “warn” her that she won’t shake her hand after today’s game. Kostyuk also said she wanted to have a wider conversation with Azarenka about the war and hear her thoughts on where the Belarusian stood. Kostyuk said that Azarenka replied that she was not on site, so they didn’t have the conversation.

Azarenka was removed from the Peace for Ukraine USTA event – a humanitarian event to raise money for Ukraine – last week after Kostyuk expressed her discomfort over Azarenka’s participation in an interview with Ukrainian outlet BTU. Kostyuk said that as a result, she refused to participate in the event.

“Imagine there is World War II and there is a fundraiser for Jewish people and a German player wants to play,” Kostyuk said of her decision after Thursday’s game.

Immediately after Kostyuk’s press conference, Azarenka told reporters that she had been reaching out to Ukrainian athletes through the WTA in recent months.

“I’ve been told it’s not a good time,” she said.

Azarenka added that she did not have a close relationship with Kostyuk and never had a conversation with her, but has approached other Ukrainian players to listen and build relationships with them and would be willing to have a face-to-face conversation. with Kostyuk.

“I’m open to any moment to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize. I believe that empathy is very important right now, which, again, was my clear message in the beginning,” she said.

Regarding the Peace for Ukraine fundraising campaign, Azarenka said she was asked to participate in it and immediately agreed because “it’s a good idea for me. Why shouldn’t I participate in humanitarian aid for people who have it now? really hard,” she says.

“I thought this was a gesture that shows real commitment,” Azarenka said. “I’m not sure why it wasn’t conceived that way.”

Azarenka also said she has had a clear message from the beginning of the war.

“I’m here to try and help, which I’ve done a lot. Maybe not something people see. And that’s not what I’m doing it for. I’m doing it for people who [are] in need, juniors who need clothes, other people who need money or other people who need transportation or whatever. That’s what I think is important, helping people in need.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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