In a shocking incident at the French Open 2023, Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk was booed by the French crowd for refusing to shake hands with Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka after opening round loss.
World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka and World No. 39 Marta Kostyuk inaugurated Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday, May 28 — Day 1 of the French Open. The match-up created a lot of buzz from the get go, owing to the two players’ nationalities and their statements in regard to the anticipated clash.
As has been the case since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the match ended with Marta Kostyuk refusing to shake hands with winner Aryna Sabalenka, who hails from Belarus. The 24-year-old was unsurprised by the gesture.
In her pre-match press conference, Sabalenka had stated that although she doesn’t agree with the idea of mixing sports with politics, she understands the Ukrainian’s position in the situation.
Kostyuk’s move, however, did not sit well with the crowd and they booed her off the court.
Interestingly, Aryna Sabalenka misread the incident and thought she was the one being booed. She thus responded to it by celebrating her win with an animated bow.
The World No. 2 later apologized for the misunderstanding.
“It was a very tough match. I would say, tough emotionally. And, I mean, sorry guys, I didn’t get it at first. I thought this ‘boo’ was against me. So I was a little surprised. But then, I felt your support. So, thank you so much for the support. Yeah, it’s really important. Thank you,” she said in her on-court interview.
Aryna Sabalenka to face compatriot Iryna Shymanovich in French Open 2023 second round after win over Marta Kostyuk
Aryna Sabalenka started off on the back foot against Marta Kostyuk. The Ukrainian secured break and a 3-2 lead in the opening set. However, Sabalenka regrouped herself forthwith and broke right back.
The Belarusian had a relatively smooth ride thereafter, as she denied the the 20-year-old another break throughout the match. Aryna Sabalenka closed out the encounter with a straight-sets victory 6-3, 6-2.
The World No. 2 will now face compatriot and qualifier Iryna Shymanovich, who is through to the Round of 64 with victory over Hungary’s Panna Udvardy 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-1.
Australian Open champion Sabalenka is in quest of her second Grand Slam at the 2023 French Open. She is also gunning for the World No. 1 spot currently held by defending champion Iga Swiatek.
“That win was very important for me. It was one of my goals. I was super happy. But actually I thought my first Grand Slam will be French Open. I have no idea why, because I couldn’t play on clay. But it was in my mind. So, it’s kind of another goal and I’m doing everything to bring my best tennis on court every time here,” the Madrid Open champion said in her on-court interview.