Belarusian Player Booed Off Court at Wimbledon

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina beat Belarus's Victoria Azarenka
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2023 12:01 AM CDT
Belarusian Player Booed Off Court at Wimbledon
Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, right, and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus walk to their chairs after Svitolina won the women's singles match on day seven of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 9, 2023.   (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

After Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus Sunday, Azarenka was "loudly" booed off the court, the Washington Post reports. The BBC notes the match was a "thriller"—not only did Svitolina go in as the underdog, there's also the fact that Belarus is allied with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and Svitolina has been refusing to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players ever since the war began. She failed to meet Azarenka at the net after the match, and Azarenka raised a hand and offered a respectful nod that was not returned before being booed as she left the court. She turned to look at the audience and made a gesture as if wondering why, and then, afterward, she wondered that question aloud to reporters.

"What should I have done? Stayed and waited?" Azarenka said. "She doesn't want to shake hands with Russian, Belarusian people. I respected her decision." Svitolina won 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) to reach the quarter-finals. Last year, Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon entirely. Svitolina has said in the past, "I think the tennis organizations 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 unclear for people. I already said multiple times that until Russian troops are out of Ukraine and we take back our territories, I'm not going to shake hands." (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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