Kostyuk didn’t deserve boos for refusing to shake hands, says Sabalenka – Thelocalreport.in

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 28, 2023 Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk walks past Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka after losing their first round match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

PARIS – Aryna Sabalenka said she understood Marta Kostyuk’s decision to skip the usual post-match handshakes with the Russian and Belarusian players following Moscow’s invasion of her country Ukraine, but the player did not deserve the boos from the crowd of the French Open.

Boos and boos were heard from the thin Court Philippe Chatrier crowd as Kostyuk left the venue after a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Belarusian world number two Sabalenka on Sunday.

Kostyuk has previously said he would not shake hands with tour rivals Russia and Belarus, which is a stage for Moscow’s “special military operation”, if he feels they have not done enough to speak out against the invasion. .

“I understand why they don’t shake hands with us. I can imagine if they shake hands with us, what will happen to them from the Ukrainian side. I understand that this is not personal. That’s it,” Sabalenka said.

“I think he didn’t deserve to leave the court like that.”

Sabalenka said she was initially confused by the crowd’s reaction, leading her to bow sarcastically to them. She later thanked them for her support.

“Yeah, I couldn’t understand what was going on. Because we all know that Ukrainian girls won’t shake hands with us, so it’s not a surprise for us, but probably today’s audience was surprised,” Sabalenka said.

“They saw it as a lack of respect for me as a player, so they booed her. At first I thought they were booing me. I was a bit confused and said, ‘Okay, what do I do? I talked to my team, make sure you understand it well.

“Then I understood what is happening and I said thank you to the public. I felt sorry for what I did at the beginning.”

Sabalenka said that Russian and Belarusian athletes did not support the war.

“How can we support the war? No one, normal people will ever support him,” Sabalenka added.

“Why do we have to scream and say that? If it could somehow affect the war, if it could stop it, we would. But unfortunately, it’s not in our hands.”

Kostyuk said the section of fans who booed her might feel differently in the future, adding that she did not expect to face a similar situation at Wimbledon, where the next Grand Slam will take place in July.

“I want to see people react in 10 years when the war ends. I think they will not feel very good about what they did,” Kostyuk said.

“Wimbledon banned them (Russian and Belarusian players) last year and when I was in the UK last year, people reacted differently towards us even on the street. I felt a lot of support.

“I’m pretty sure the reaction would be different.”


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