Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina suggests shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players would be disrespectful to her friends who are battling on the front line. Svitolina, 28, was out for 13 months before returning to action in April.
Long before Svitolina returned to tennis, Ukrainian players weren't shaking hands with players from Russia and Belarus. Expectedly, Svitolina followed that path as she also hasn't been shaking with players from Russia and Belarus.
While some understand Svitolina's stance, some have also criticized Svitolina and other Ukrainian players for "mixing politics with sports."
Svitolina explains why she just can't shake hands with Russian players
“For me, it is very sad, and very frustrating that people don't understand this.
It's a very obvious thing to not shake hands when I have a lot of friends who are on the front line, right now, fighting for Ukraine. Can you imagine them watching me competing at Wimbledon or any anywhere in the world, shaking hands and acting like nothing's happening? People need to understand that sometimes you can’t divide politics from sport.
They are representing their countries and I am representing mine in front of the world. My position has to be clear," Svitolina told Harper's Bazaar. After losing to Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka in the French Open quarterfinal, Svitolina was booed off the court.
At Wimbledon, Belarus' Victoria Azarenka got booed off the court after losing to Svitolina. After the Wimbledon match, Svitolina suggested releasing a statement and making it clear there would be no handshake could solve problems of that nature.
"Well, I got the same. I got the same in Paris. I played three matches in Paris in this way. Today, as well. For me personally, I think the tennis organizations, they have to come out with a statement that there will be no handshake between Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian players.
I don't know if it's maybe not clear for people. Some people not really know what is happening. So I think this is the right way to do," Svitolina said. The Wimbledon organizers denied Svitolina's request, saying it was up to the player to decide how to react after the match.
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