Marta Kostyuk booed for not shaking Aryna Sabalenka’s hand in French Open defeat

By Sports Desk May 28, 2023

Marta Kostyuk was booed off court after refusing to shake hands with Aryna Sabalenka at the end of her first-round French Open defeat.

There was particular interest in the opening clash of the tournament on Philippe Chatrier given Ukrainian Kostyuk has been the most outspoken critic both of allowing Russian and Belarusian players to continue competing and of athletes from those two countries for not speaking out against their nations.

Sabalenka knew Kostyuk would not shake her hand at the end of the match, and the Belarusian said in her pre-tournament press conference: “If she hates me, OK. I can’t do anything about that.”

The pair kept well apart ahead of the contest, not posing together for the usual pre-match picture, and at the end of the 6-3 6-2 victory for the second seed, Kostyuk walked to shake hands with the umpire before heading to her seat.

A section of the crowd began booing, startling Sabalenka, who appeared unsure whether the gesture was directed at her, but the fans then cheered for her before jeering Kostyuk when she walked off.

Sabalenka said: “It was a very tough match, tough emotionally. I didn’t know if the booing was against me but thank you so much for your support, it’s really important.”

The Australian Open champion is one of three big favourites for the women’s title along with defending champion Iga Swiatek and Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina.

She looked tight to start with and two double faults contributed to a loss of serve as Kostyuk took a 3-2 advantage in the first set.

But Sabalenka got back on level terms immediately and from there relaxed into the match, losing just two of the last 12 games.

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