Wimbledon: No comment on Ukrainians not shaking hands with Russians

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine urged tennis authorities to publicize the fact that Ukrainians won’t be shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus leaves the court after losing to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.
Posted at 4:36 PM, Jul 10, 2023

Wimbledon is staying out of the politics of handshakes.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine had urged tennis authorities to publicize that Ukrainians won’t be shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players after matches — so that fans don't boo because they think some players are being snubbed.

"We've no intention of doing that," Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said Monday.

Fans on No. 1 Court booed Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka after she didn't go to the net to shake hands with Svitolina after the Ukrainian player's victory on Sunday.

Azarenka knew that Svitolina doesn't shake hands with Russians and Belarusians — in protest of Russia's invasion of Ukraine — and instead waved to her. She later said she was trying to be "respectful towards her decision.”

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus echoed Svitolina's call for an announcement "so players will not leave court with so much hate ... It would be good for the crowd to actually know what’s going on. There is a reason behind no handshake."

Bolton, however, said there won't be any instruction to Wimbledon umpires to make announcements about handshakes.

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"Historically, in tennis the decision on how a player reacts at the end of a match is entirely a personal decision for them and I think we don't really want to start mandating what happens," Bolton said. "We have an incredibly knowledgeable audience at Wimbledon and I think in the most part they would understand what was going on. I wouldn’t want to speculate on what everybody in the crowd was thinking last night."

At the French Open, it was the other way around for Ukrainian players. Marta Kostyuk was booed when she didn't shake hands with Sabalenka. Svitolina said she was also booed in Paris.

Russian player Daniil Medvedev, who moved into the quarterfinals on Monday, said Azarenka being booed was a "big misunderstanding." In a big crowd, he said, there's bound to be people who don't know the details.

"It's a pity for sure for her that she got booed, and probably for no reason," the third-seeded Medvedev said. "But I think the people didn't know the story behind it, and that’s why it happened."