Tennis star Victoria Azarenka from Belarus revealed her disappointment at being booed off the court by Wimbledon spectators following a heartbreaking loss to Elina Svitolina from Ukraine. Due to the current war in Ukraine, Azarenka accepted Svitolina’s decision to avoid shaking hands with Russians or Belarusians. Despite the crowd’s encouragement, Svitolina won with a score of “2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9)”.
After the match, Azarenka waved to Svitolina, but the Ukrainian made no response. Azarenka was jeered by the audience as she left the court, which made her wonder why and make a gesture in response.
Svitolina, on the other hand, was unable to say with certainty whether she was surprised by the hostile reception that Azarenka received from the British crowd. Svitolina had previously come under fire for failing to shake hands with opponents after games. She got jeers at the French Open the month prior for refusing to shake hands with Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka following a quarterfinal defeat. Svitolina stated that she thinks fans often boo players who don’t participate in the handshake custom.
She hoped that instead of focusing on the unfavourable response to Azarenka’s exit, people would instead pay attention to the calibre of tennis played by both players. Tennis matches are not life-altering experiences, as Azarenka highlighted, and it is important to maintain the perspective that they are merely performing their professions.
After losing to Svitolina at Wimbledon, Azarenka expressed her disappointment at the jeers from the crowd while appreciating Svitolina’s decision to avoid shaking hands with Russians and Belarusians. Similar criticism was levelled at Svitolina for refusing to shake hands at the French Open in the past. Azarenka hoped that attention would turn to the calibre of the matches played and stressed that tennis is merely a sport and not a force for good in people’s lives.