Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka’s hand over silence on war – ESPN

Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake Victoria Azarenka's hand over silence on war - ESPN

NEW YORK — After her straight-sets loss to former world No. 1 Victoria AzarenkaUkraine Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with his Belarusian opponent. Instead, she raised her racket for a quick tap.

Kostyuk, who expressed his unhappiness with the silence of Russian and Belarusian players on the tour, said it was inappropriate to shake Azarenka’s hand at the post-match press conference.

“It was my choice — I don’t feel like I know any person who has publicly condemned the war and the actions of their government, so I don’t feel like 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 personality,” Kostyuk added.

After the Citi Open in Washington, a Ukrainian player Dayana Yastremska also refused to shake hands with Azarenka after the match. Yastremska fled Ukraine with her younger sister days after the Russian invasion began in February.

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

Kostyuk said that Azarenka had not contacted her for a conversation since the start of the war. Kostyuk said because of Azarenka’s achievement both in Belarus and as part of the WTA’s Players Council, she should use her voice to condemn the war.

Kostyuk also said she texted Azarenka on Wednesday after her practice session to “warn her” that she would not be shaking hands with her after the match today. Kostyuk also said she wanted to have a broader conversation with Azarenka about the war and hear her thoughts on where the Belarusian stood. Kostyuk said Azarenka replied that she was not there, and so they did not have the conversation.

Azarenka was removed from last week’s USTA Peace for Ukraine event — a humanitarian event to raise funds for Ukraine — after Kostyuk expressed his discomfort with Azarenka’s participation in an interview with Ukrainian outlet BTU. Kostyuk said she refused to attend the event as a result.

“Imagine it’s World War II and there’s a fundraiser for Jews and a German player wants to play,” Kostyuk said of her decision after Thursday’s match.

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

“I was told it was 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 reached out to other Ukrainian players to listen and build relationships with them and would be willing to have a face-to-face. with Kostyuk.

“I am open at any time to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize. I believe that empathy in such a moment is really important, which was again my clear message in the beginning,” she said.

Regarding the Peace for Ukraine fundraising event, Azarenka said that she was asked to participate in it and immediately agreed to do it, because “it’s a no-brainer for me. Like, why wouldn’t I participate in humanitarian aid for people who are. really struggling right now,” she said.

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

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

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

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