ONE OF Ukraine’s leading tennis players was BOOED OFF a French Open court after losing to a Belarusian.
Marta Kostyuk – the second highest-ranked female player from her country – was defeated 6-3 6-2 in 71 minutes by Aryna Sabalenka on the opening day of the Paris Slam.
Marta Kostyuk purposefully did not shake Aryna Sabalenka’s hand
Australian Open champion Sabalenka bowed to the crowd
The pair did not pose for a photo at the net before the start of their first-round tie.
And the pair – as was expected – purposefully did not shake hands when the result was confirmed.
As a result, some spectators on Court Philippe-Chatrier – the premier arena of the Roland Garros site – started to jeer Kostyuk as she walked off with her bag over her shoulder.
It was a bizarre end to the match as Minsk-born Sabalenka initially thought the crowd were booing her and she sarcastically bowed in response.
The Australian Open champion even asked the umpire if the catcalls were for her despite the straight-sets victory.
It was only when she spoke to someone in her team that she realised her error.
Sabalenka said: “It was a very tough match. Tough emotionally.
“I mean sorry guys, at the first I thought these boos were against me. I was a little surprised. Then I felt your support – so thank you so much for that.
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Sabalenka was ignored by her opponent after the match
Kostyuk, 20, lost 6-3, 6-2
“It is really important. Thank you, thank you.”
Sabalenka, one of the loudest grunters on the circuit, was asked on Friday’s media day how hard it must be playing a match against an opponent who harbours negative feelings about you personally.
The 25-year-old, who has never gone beyond the French Open third round, replied: “I don’t want to waste my energy on this kind of stuff.
“It’s none of my business, you know. So if she hate me, okay. I can’t do anything about that.
“There is going to be people who love me. There is going to be people who hate me. If she hates me, I don’t feel anything like that to her.”
Sabalenka added: “I thought it was against me from the public. But oh my god, thanks a lot. They gave me a lot of support, so it wasn’t to me.
“I mean I can understand no shake but at the same time I really believe that sport shouldn’t be involved in politics. Whatever. If they feel better like that, okay I am happy with this.”
Russia’s war in Ukraine, which was assisted by the Belarusian government, began in February 2022 and is showing no signs of stopping.
Tennis chiefs on the ATP and WTA Tours have allowed players from Russian and Belarus to compete but only as neutrals and without their national flags displayed against their names.
Wimbledon banned stars from those two rogue nations from appearing at the 2022 Championship but that decision has been reversed for this summer’s event.
Kostyuk strode straight to her bag at the end of the match