Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Russian opponent Varvara Gracheva after she won a Women’s Tennis Association tournament on Sunday.
Kostyuk’s victory at the ATX Open over the weekend marked the first WTA title of her career. Instead of shaking hands with Gracheva, Kostyuk shook hands with the referee at the end of the match.
«It was just my choice,» Kostyuk said in reference to the decision not to shake Gracheva’s hand, according to The Mirror. «We had a great match, don’t get me wrong. She’s a great competitor, I respect her as an athlete, but that has nothing to do with her as a human being.»
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Kostyuk noted that his victory on Sunday was dedicated to «all the people who fight and die» in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
«Being in the position I’m in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title,» he said. «I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who are fighting and dying right now.»
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Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to play on the tour, but are not allowed to display the flags of either country. Fans are also prohibited from displaying Russian or Belarusian flags.
Kostyuk has previously expressed his feelings about Russian and Belarusian players competing in WTA events.
«Who speaks [regarding the war] Clearly, I think he has every right to tour, but whoever doesn’t…I don’t think he’s just human,» he said in January, according to The Mirror. «I don’t really talk to anyone. [Russian and Belarusian competitors] I barely say ‘hi’ to them.»
The All England Club of the Lawn Tennis Association, which organizes Wimbledon’s annual Grand Slam, is debating whether to allow Russian and Belarusian players to take part in this summer’s tournament.
Last year, Russian and Belarusian players were not allowed to play in the Grand Slam, resulting in the removal of ranking points from the tournament and a $1 million fine.
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The Australian Open allowed players to compete this year, as long as their flag or country was not displayed. Kostyuk reached the third round of the Australian Open before finally being defeated by Jessica Pegula.