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Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka citing silence on war

NEW YORK – Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk has refused to shake the hand of her Belarusian opponent after her straight-set loss to former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. Instead, she raised her racket and tapped quickly.

Kostyuk, who has been vocal about her complaints about the silence of Russian and Belarusian players on tour, said it was inappropriate to shake hands with Azarenka at the post-match press conference.

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

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

After the City Open in Washington, DC, Ukrainian player Dayana Yastremska also refused to shake hands with Azarenka after the game. I fled Ukraine.

Belarus is under US sanctions for “supporting” and “promoting” its aggression.

Kostyuk said Azarenka had not contacted her or spoken to her since the war began. Kostyuk said that given Azarenka’s influence as a member of Belarus and her WTA Players’ Council, she should use her voice to denounce the war.

Kostyuk also said he sent Azarenka a “warning” message on Wednesday after a practice session not to shake hands after today’s game. Kostyuk also said she wanted to have a wider conversation with Azarenka about the war and wanted to hear her thoughts on where the Belarusians stood. Kostyuk said there was no conversation as Azarenka replied that he was not at the scene.

Azarenka said Kostyuk was removed from the USTA’s Peace for Ukraine event last week, a humanitarian event to raise funds for Ukraine, and as a result refused to participate in the event. .

“Imagine there is World War II, there is a fundraiser for Jews, and German players want to play.

Shortly after Kostyuk’s press conference, Azarenka told reporters that she had reached out through the WTA to talk to Ukrainian players over the past few months.

“I was told it wasn’t the right time,” she said.

Azarenka added that she did not have a close relationship with Kostyuk and had never had a conversation with him, but was happy to listen to other Ukrainian players and reach out to build relationships with them. I want to talk to Kostyuk.

“I am always open to listening, trying to understand and empathizing. she said.

Speaking about the fundraising event for peace in Ukraine, Azarenka said she was asked to participate and readily agreed. I’m really struggling right now,” she said.

“I thought it was a gesture that really showed commitment,” Azarenka said. “I don’t know why it wasn’t taken that way.”

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

“I’m here to help. I’ve done a lot. Probably not what people see. And that’s not what I do. I’m doing it for [are] People in need, juniors who need clothes, people who need money, people who need transportation, etc. Helping people in need is what matters to me. “

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