And it seems that the harangue has penetrated the six Ukrainian tennis players who these days dispute the French tournament. Marta Kostyuk was the first to stage it against the Russian Aryna Sabalenka, when she refused to greet her after losing her first round match last Sunday (3-6, 2-6).

"Let him say who he is going to war with. I've never said I hate her, but obviously I don't respect her," he said at the press conference after the match with the world No. 2.

Kostyuk already warned that he would not greet Sabalenka after their confrontation because he believes that he does not "express himself clearly" regarding his position in the conflict, which cost him the boos of the French public.

Moment of no greeting between Kostyuk and Sabalenka.C. TESSONEFE

Refusing the salute is probably the majority position among Ukrainian tennis players when they face the Russians at Roland Garros, if at all. Anhelina Kalinina already did it in her confrontation in the Master 1000 of Rome against another Russian, Veronica Kudermetova. We didn't shake hands because she's from Russia, basically. It's no secret why I didn't do it, it's because this country attacks Ukraine."

Of the six Ukrainian tennis players, perhaps Lesia Tsurenko is the most combative. The Ukrainian criticized the IOC and the WTA for the lukewarmness regarding the position to be adopted with Russian athletes. "A year ago, Steve Simon told us that if a player showed her support for the war, she would be expelled. A year later, it's as if Steve Simon himself said: 'You can support the war,'" he criticized the head of WTA in a specialized media.

The ATP and WTA did not ban Russian tennis players from tournaments as long as they did so without a flag. However, the women's organization did "strongly condemn the actions carried out by the Russian government", although it has always fought and pressured for Soviet tennis players not to be excluded from international tournaments. In fact, both associations threatened to sanction the All England Club if it maintained its ban on playing Russians at Wimbledon this year.

Disparate gestures

The tennis courts have been yet another theatre of the Ukrainian conflict. At another Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova witnessed a clash in the crowd when a fan unfurled the Russian flag in front of Ukrainian fans. A gesture prohibited by the direction of the tournament and that required the presence of the police in the stands.

But the gestures of Ukrainian tennis players are not always combative, but also supportive. Recently, also in France, former world number 3 Elina Svitolina announced, after winning the WTA Tournament in Strasbourg, that she would donate all the prize money to Ukrainian children. Victory that he achieved, precisely, against the Russian Anna Blinkova. "Thank you very much for everything you do for us, and together we will see the light and win this war. Thanks a lot. Merci. Slava Ukraini," Svitolina said after the tournament.

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