Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine was booed after dodging Aryna Sabalenka’s handshake at the French Open.
Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine was booed off the court after refusing a handshake with Aryna Sabalenka during the Belarusian’s first-round victory at the French Open.
Sabalenka, the second seed, cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Belarus is a Russian ally that authorized troops to commence last year’s invasion of Ukraine from its borders.
“I thought the boos were directed at me, so I was surprised,” Australian Open champion Sabalenka remarked. “But then I felt your support.”
Following the coin toss, the two did not pose for the traditional pre-match photo. Following Sabalenka’s triumph, Kostyuk moved straight to the umpire’s hand and then to her chair, drawing boos from the audience on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Sabalenka was taken aback by the initial booing, believing it was directed at her, before realizing it was directed at world number 28 Kostyuk, who was booed again as he exited the court.
“It was a very tough match, emotionally,” Sabalenka said during her on-court interview.
Prior to the match, Sabalenka, who had stated that “no one supports war,” stated that she understands if Kostyuk “hates” her.
At last year’s US Open, Kostyuk, 20, refused to shake hands with Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka.
Sabalenka is one of the favourites to win the Roland Garros title and might become world number one if Iga Swiatek fails to reach the quarter-finals.
Kostyuk gained the first break after Sabalenka’s rough start, which included two double faults, but it appeared to startle the 25-year-old into finding another level.
She promptly retaliated, launching a crushing six-game winning streak against Kostyuk.
Despite pulling a game back, Sabalenka maintained her command of the court, saving two break points in her last service game before sealing the victory on her first match point.
In the second round, she will face either Hungary’s Panna Udvardy or fellow Belarusian Iryna Shymanovich, who is a qualifier.