Elina Svitolina has revealed that the WTA will inform the crowd before her match against Victoria Azarenka on Monday that no post-match handshakes will take place in a bid to avoid a hostile reaction. Svitolina, who hails from Ukraine, was caught up in controversy at Wimbledon earlier this year when she refused to shake Azarenka’s hand after beating her Belarusian opponent.
Azarenka knew about Svitolina’s stance in advance and respectfully headed straight to her bag in order to avoid an awkward snub at the net. Her decision to do so was met with fierce boos from the Wimbledon crowd, although the WTA are keen to steer clear of a repeat when they face off at the Washington Open on Monday evening.
Svitolina has confirmed that, following a conversation with WTA chief Steve Simon, the crowd in Washington will be told before the match that no handshakes will take place at the net.
“After our match at Wimbledon, the WTA, as you know, I said that there will be no handshake between Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian players,” she explained. “Just yesterday I spoke with Steve Simon and he told me that they would announce before our match that there would be no handshake, so I am happy with that.”
It comes after Azarenka was left furious by the crowd’s reaction at Wimbledon, with the 34-year-old hitting out at those who responded with boos in her post-match press conference.
“What can I say about the crowd? There is nothing to say,” said Azarenka. “She doesn’t want to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian people, I respected her decision. What should I have done, stayed and waited? There’s nothing I could’ve done that would’ve been right so I just did what I thought was respectful towards her.
“This conversation about shaking hands is not a life-changing conversation so if you guys want to keep talking about it, bring it out, make it a big deal, a headline, whatever it is, keep going. I thought it was a great tennis match and if people are going to keep focusing only on handshakes or crowds, a quite drunk crowd booing in the end, then that’s a shame.”
Ukrainian players have been drawn against Russians and Belarusians on multiple occasions as of late, with Aryna Sabalenka playing both Marta Kostyuk and Svitolina on her way to the French Open semi-finals earlier this year. It came shortly after Daria Kasatkina was booed off by the Paris crowd following her lack of a handshake with Svitolina, in a similar way to the events that unfolded at Wimbledon a month later.
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