Tennis fans in the stands at the French Open booed Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk after she declined to shake hands with Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka after their match.
Kostyuk saw during her sleepless pre-match jitters that Russia—with Belarusian backing—launched the largest drone attack on Kyiv since the invasion began in February 2022.
Kostyuk is very affected by the war back home in Ukraine, where much of her family still lives in Kyiv.
“It’s something I cannot describe, probably. I try to put my emotions aside any time I go out on court."
"I think I’m better than before, and I don’t think it affects me as much on a daily basis, but yeah, it’s just—I don’t know..."
"There is not much to say, really. It’s just part of my life.”
After her match with Sabalenka, Kostyuk chose not to engage in the customary hand shake after the match with the Belarusian player, following the actions taken by many Ukrainian athletes with matches or contests against Belarusian players.
However, Kostyuk was booed by the crowd for actions.
Reactions online were divided.
First were those who supported Kostyuk's choice to decline the handshake at the end of the match.
Others—like many in the crowd—labeled Kostyuk's actions as "unsportmanlike."
Others used this as a chance to ask bigger questions about the nature of athletes representing the countries they come from.
This won't be the last time this happens, another person observed.
Another person asked why a Belarusian player was even at the match, if there are international sanctions against Belarus and Russia.
Kostyuk lost the match, so Sabalenka proceeded to the next round in the French Open.