Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk said she didn't respect her Belarus opponent for remaining silent about Russia's invasion
- Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk said she doesn't respect her Belarus opponent Aryna Sabalenka.
- Kostyuk lost to Sabalenka at the French Open on Sunday and refused to shake her hand after the game.
Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk said she doesn't respect her Belarusian opponent Aryna Sabalenka — and believes Sabalenka should speak out about her country's support for Russia's invasion.
Kostyuk, 20, criticized her opponent in a post-match interview, saying Sabalenka doesn't use her platform to speak out about Russia's war in Ukraine and Belarus' ongoing allyship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"To reject her responsibility of having an opinion on the most important things in the world I cannot respect that. She said I hate her. I never said publicly, nor privately, nor to anyone that I hate Aryna Sabalenka or any of the players," Kostyuk said. "I just don't respect her because of her position in this situation."
—The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) May 28, 2023
Kostyuk's comments came after she was booed off the court for refusing to shake hands with Sabalenka on Sunday during the first round of the French Open. The two also did not complete the traditional pre-match photo together after the coin-toss, according to BBC News.
Sabalenka, world number 2, said before the match that she didn't expect a handshake from Kostyuk and understands if the Ukrainian player hates her, according to BBC News. She also questioned her role in voicing an opinion on Russia's invasion in Ukraine.
"I kind of understand why they are not shaking hands. At the same time, I feel like sports shouldn't be in politics, we're just athletes," she said, BBC reported.
Videos showed Kostyuk, ranked 39 in the world, avoiding Sabalenka after the Belarusian's 6-3 6-2 win.
—NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 28, 2023
Kostyuk later said people who booed her "should be honestly embarrassed," BBC News reported.
"I want to see people react to it in 10 years when the war is over. I think they will not feel really nice about what they did," she added, according to BBC.
Belarus is one of Russia's few allies in the Ukraine war, hosting troops and weapons for Putin since the early weeks of the invasion last February. This past weekend, Belarus agreed to deploy Russia's tactical nuclear weapons in its territory, Reuters reported.
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