No handshake after Ukraine, Belarus players meet at US Open

Sep 1, 2022, 12:19 AM | Updated: 12:23 pm
Marta Kostyuk, of Ukraine, reacts during a match against Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, during the ...

Marta Kostyuk, of Ukraine, reacts during a match against Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

NEW YORK (AP) — A Ukrainian player declined to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka after the three-time U.S. Open runner-up from Belarus beat her at Flushing Meadows on Thursday.

Marta Kostyuk waited at the net with her racket held up, which Azarenka tapped with her racket following her 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Belarus helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine in February, and Kostyuk said it had been on her mind since she saw the U.S. Open draw that she may have to play Azarenka in the second round.

“It’s pretty personal,” Kostyuk said. “It wasn’t a personal match for me because it was Vika specifically, but overall it was not just a casual match that I play in a tournament.”

Asked about the traditional handshake that follows a match, Kostyuk said: “I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances I’m in right now.”

Azarenka said she had already faced that situation with a Ukrainian player when she played Dayana Yastremska last month in Washington.

“It is what it is. I just move on,” Azarenka said. “I cannot force anybody to shake my hand. It’s their decision.”

Kostyuk said she texted Azarenka a day before the match to inform her there would be no handshake. Azarenka returned the text, telling Kostyuk she was no longer onsite, so Kostyuk dropped the subject because she wanted to deliver the message in person.

Azarenka said she reached out to all the Ukrainian players she has a relationship with in March after the invasion. Kostyuk isn’t one of them, but Azarenka said she tried nevertheless.

“Well, I’ve offered many times through the WTA, because I believe that there is a sort of sensitivity. I’ve been told that that’s not a good time,” Azarenka said.

“If Marta wants to speak with me, like she texted me yesterday, I replied. I’m open any time to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize. I believe that empathy in the moment like this is really important, which has, again, been my clear message in the beginning.”

Kostyuk questioned Azarenka being part of the “Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition” that the U.S. Tennis Association held the week before the tournament to raise money for Ukraine. Azarenka was dropped from the lineup the day of the event, which helped generate more than $1 million for humanitarian assistance.

“Everyone is trying to be super democratic about this thing that happened and because it’s like, my nation is being killed daily, I’m going to tell you from my perspective very quickly so I don’t think I ever want to answer this question again,” Kostyuk said. “Imagine there is a World War II and there is a fundraiser for Jewish people and a German player wants to play. During the war, not 70 years after the war happened. During the war. I don’t think Jewish people would understand.”

Azarenka, a member of the WTA Tour players council, said the important thing was that the event was held, not whether she was part of it.

“I feel like I’ve had a very clear message from the beginning, is that I’m here to try to help, which I have done a lot,” Azarenka said. “Maybe not something that people see and that’s not what I do it for. I do it for people who in need, juniors who need clothes, other people who need money or other people who needed transportation or whatever. That’s what is important to me, to help people are in need.”

Russian and Belarussian players were banned from Wimbledon in response to the war. They are allowed to play at the U.S. Open, without their nations or their flags being listed.

___

More AP coverage of U.S. Open tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands looks on at pit area during first practice sessio...
Associated Press

Verstappen set to win a second straight F1 season title

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc knows it. So does anyone following Formula One; no calculators needed. Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen is set to win his second straight drivers’ title, and it’s likely to come on Sunday with rain predicted for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Friday’s two practice sessions were run in […]
23 hours ago
Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II (25) and linebacker Zaire Franklin (44) celebrate after ...
Associated Press

Colts grind out 12-9 win over Broncos in injury-filled game

DENVER (AP) — Matt Ryan kept the faith through all the sacks, interceptions, fumbles and three-and-outs that made for a streaming snooze-fest Thursday night. “It was just kind of a slog of a game,” the Indianapolis quarterback said after Stephon Gilmore batted away Russell Wilson’s pass to Courtland Sutton in the end zone on fourth-and-1 […]
23 hours ago
Fans of Gimnasia de La Plata choke on tear gas during a local tournament match between Gimnasia de ...
Associated Press

1 dead as police, fans clash outside Argentine soccer match

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — At least one person died while police clashed with soccer fans trying to push into an Argentine league match Thursday night, and the referee stopped the game as clouds of tear gas spread inside the stadium. Authorities and witnesses said fans of the home team, Gimnasia y Esgrima, struggled to […]
23 hours ago
Tom Hoge tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the Shriners Children's Open golf tour...
Associated Press

Tom Hoge rides a pair of eagles to 63, Las Vegas lead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tom Hoge wanted to be sure to take advantage of pristine conditions Thursday morning in Las Vegas. He did more than he expected, making two eagles on his way to an 8-under 63 for a one-shot lead in the Shriners Children’s Open. One of the eagles came with a gap wedge […]
23 hours ago
New York Mets' Francisco Lindor speaks during a news conference the day before a wild-card baseball...
Associated Press

Star-studded Padres and Mets square off in wild-card round

NEW YORK (AP) — For two teams that finished second fiddle in their divisions, the Padres and Mets bring an awful lot of star power into the playoffs. Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Yu Darvish on the San Diego side. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor for New York — just to name a […]
23 hours ago
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (10) throws a pass in the first half of a NFL football game ...
Associated Press

‘Cooper Clutch’ as QB Rush stays perfect for Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Cooper Rush shrugs at what he calls “QB win stats,” seeming to skip the logic that it’s the most important measure of a quarterback. Winning is all Rush has done for the Dallas Cowboys in four games as an injury replacement for Dak Prescott, including three times this season after Prescott […]
23 hours ago
No handshake after Ukraine, Belarus players meet at US Open