Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands or pose for any victory photographs with her Russian opponent after winning the ATX Open in Texas. The world No.40 celebrated her first WTA event victory with an emotional speech dedicating her victory to those in her native country of Ukraine.
The 20-year-old was part of a group of Ukrainian players who asked for their Russian and Belarusian colleagues to be banned from competing. Wimbledon did just that and stopped stars from both countries from competing at SW19 last season, but were fined for doing so and ranking points from the tournament were withdrawn.
Speaking on the court after her first WTA victory in Texas an emotional Kostyuk said: “I want to thank everybody who is watching in Ukraine. Being in the position that I’m in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title.
“I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who are fighting and dying right now. It’s a very special moment, no matter when it happens.” However, the traditional handshake between Kostyuk and her opponent Varvara Gracheva didn’t happen before or after her 6-3,7-5 victory.
Also Kostyuk refused to pose for any post-match pictures with her ATX Open final opponent. The Ukrainian tennis star has been outspoken about the continued participation of Russian and Belarusian tennis players while the war in her native country continues.
Last year the 20-year-old refused to shake the hand of Belarus star Victoria Azarenka at the US Open with the pair instead touching rackets. She also slammed the Belarusian for participating in a charity match for Ukraine, before the United States Tennis Association announced that Azarenka would not take part.
At the season-opening Australian Open the Ukrainian star spoke out after footage emerged showing Novak Djokovic’s dad Srdjan posing alongside pro-Putin protesters. Fans holding Russian flags were evicted from the court but Kostyuk was disappointed with the handling of the situation.
She said: “It hurts a lot because there were specific rules that were printed out outside that you’re not allowed to bring out the flags and so on. It really hurts that they were there for quite some time. They were there on the court, in the stands as well and I just don’t understand as well. It really hurts and I don’t understand how this can be possible.”
Source : Express