6 March 2023, 14:59
A tearful Ukrainian tennis player refused to shake hands with her Russian opponent after beating her in the final of a WTA tournament on Sunday.
Marta Kostyuk, 20, burst into tears and dedicated her victory over Varvara Gracheva at the ATX Open in Austin, Texas, to people “fighting and dying” in her homeland.
During the presentation ceremony after the 6-3 7-5 victory, Ms Kostyuk said: “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.”
She added: “Everyone who is in the stands and everyone who is watching, especially in Ukraine, I want to say Slava Ukraini. [Glory to Ukraine].”
Ms Kostyuk has been the most outspoken player about the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian players to continue playing on tour following the invasion of Ukraine.
She said it was “very upsetting” to see Srdjan Djokovic, father of men’s tennis star Novak, posing with a fan holding the Russian flag at the Australian Open in January. Djokovic Sr later said his actions had been misinterpreted.
Ms Kosteva also refused to shake hands with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the US Open last summer.
At the tournament on Sunday night, Ms Kostyuk shook hands with the umpire, but then jogged past Ms Gracheva without shaking hands.
“Whoever speaks out clearly I believe has every right to be on tour but whoever doesn’t… I don’t think it’s just humane,’ she said.
“I don’t really talk to anyone. I barely say ‘hi’ to them.”
At the Australian Open in Melbourne, Ms Kostyuk insisted that she would not be friendly to any of her fellow tourists who did not take a stand against the Russian invasion of her country.
She said: “I haven’t changed about the war and everything that’s going on, on tour.
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“Because people who just say they don’t want war, it makes us sound like we want war. Obviously, we don’t want the war, too.”