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Marta Kostyuk refuses to shake fingers with Russian opponent

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk is taking a stand.
Picture: AP

As her father and grandfather remained trapped in Kyiv with battle raging round them, Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk was making headlines, taking down Russian competitor Varvara Gracheva within the finals of the ATX Open on Sunday. After successful the match in two units (6-3, 7-5), Kostyuk shook the umpire’s hand however refused to acknowledge her opponent in any means. The reason being apparent.

Kostyuk made it clear that this had nothing to do with skilled respect. “We had an ideal match, don’t get me improper,” mentioned Kostyuk. “She’s an ideal competitor, I respect her as an athlete, however that has nothing to do along with her as a human being.” Nevertheless, the burden of representing a rustic beneath such dire circumstances is difficult to hold. As Kostyuk defined, “I’m extra careworn being outdoors and searching in, than really being [in Ukraine].”

That is Kostyuk’s proper. Whereas some folks might declare that Kostyuk is displaying poor sportsmanship by refusing to separate the gamers from their nationality, Kostyuk claims she’d be prepared to shake their fingers if they might come out publicly towards the invasion of her residence nation, not simply the battle. Most Russian and Belarusian tennis gamers haven’t although.

This isn’t the primary time Kostyuk has refused to shake fingers with gamers of Russian or Belarusian descent. After shedding to former world primary Victoria Azarenka within the US Open final September, Kostyuk generated headlines by refusing to acknowledge her opponent after the match.

The removing of Russian and Belarusian gamers has been a scorching debate within the tennis world as of late. Completely different organizations have completely different guidelines concerning their eligibility. Whereas the Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation (WTA) permits gamers from each international locations to compete, claiming that gamers shouldn’t be punished by the deeds of their international locations, particular person tournaments like Wimbledon have banned gamers from each international locations till the battle ends, citing their accountability to restrict Russia’s international affect. This was the primary time since World Warfare II, when German and Japanese gamers had been banned from competitions, that Wimbledon had positioned a ban on athletes from particular international locations. Different tournaments have allowed gamers to play with out displaying any type of help for his or her nation, even one thing as small as displaying their nation’s flag on their outfits.

Is it proper for these tournaments to ban athletes of particular nationalities although? Stephane Gurov, CEO of High 5 Administration, a sports activities administration firm, represents each Ukrainian and Russian tennis gamers — together with Gracheva — and understands that the nationwide battle has created stress in locker rooms, very similar to it has in soccer, as each sports activities partake in fixed worldwide matches. He claims that he has to face behind his athletes no matter politics and that he want to see them play. Gracheva’s coach, Jean-Rene Lisnard, provided way more direct ideas: “She’s making an attempt to do a job nearly as good as she will, you already know? It’s only a disgrace for these gamers to be linked to that, you already know? If we might have penalized each American gamers or French gamers or any nation each time there’s a battle, some gamers would by no means play.” Lisnard reiterated that Gracheva is simply 21 years outdated and left Russia for France over 5 years in the past, having performed no half within the invasion that began in 2022.

Kostyuk’s win on Sunday propelled her to No. 40 within the WTA rankings. She devoted her win on the ATX Open “to Ukraine and to all of the folks which are preventing and dying proper now.” She is making an attempt to make use of her platform to finish a battle that has taken hundreds of harmless lives, and you may’t blame her for that. A number of Russian tennis gamers have criticized their nation’s invasion of Ukraine on each the boys’s and ladies’s sides, together with Daria Kasatkina, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Any Russian athlete but to face towards the invasion is doing so out of non-public selection, and that makes Kostyuk’s dismissal of these gamers all of the extra comprehensible.




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