Zoom Image

Marta Kostjuk in the first round match of the French Open

Photo: Christophe Ena / dpa

The Ukrainian Marta Kostjuk refused to shake hands with Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus after her explosive first-round duel at the French Open and was booed for it. After the 3: 6, 2: 6, the 20-year-old Kostjuk did not look at her opponent on Sunday and refrained from shaking her hand - as is usually the case in tennis. Large parts of the audience on the Court Philippe-Chatrier reacted with boos and whistles, some spectators also applauded when Kostjuk left the court.

Kostiuk, who was born in Kiev, refuses to shake hands with players from Russia and Belarus after matches and calls on professionals from both countries to clearly condemn the war. Sabalenka had repeatedly stated before the game that she would end Russia's war of aggression if she could, saying that it was "okay" if Kostjuk hated her.

After the game, Sabalenka reacted with surprise to the boos and whistles of the audience and bowed to the spectators. At first, she thought that these would apply to her, said the 25-year-old Australian Open winner with a smile. "The game was very difficult and emotional for me."

In contrast to other sports, players from Russia and Belarus are allowed to compete in tennis because they are considered independent of their countries. After an exclusion last year, this will also be the case at the grass classic in Wimbledon.

Australian Open winner Sabalenka is considered one of the biggest challengers to defending champion Iga Swiatek from Poland at the French Open at the Stade Roland Garros. In the final of the clay court Masters in Madrid, she defeated Swiatek in three sets. In Paris, however, Sabalenka has never made it past the third round.