Jul 9, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Elina Svitolina (UKR) celebrates winning her match against Victoria Azarenka on day seven at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Belarusian tennis star Victoria Azarenka was booed off the court at Wimbledon after she lost to Elina Svitolina, who is Ukrainian.

Azarenka was booed because she didn’t shake Svitolina’s hand after the match. She tried to explain to ESPN later that she was trying to respect Svitolina’s wishes.

“What can I say about the crowd,” Azarenka said, according to ESPN. “There is nothing to say. She doesn’t want to shake hands with Russian, Belarusian people. I respected her decision. What should I have done? Stayed and waited? Like, I mean, there’s no thing that I could do that would have been right, so I just did what I thought was respectful towards her decision.”

As everyone knows, Russia and Ukraine are in the middle of an ongoing conflict that has been going on for over a year. One of the few counties to back Russia is Belarus, where Azarenka is from.

Svitolina also didn’t shake hands at the French Open as well. Svitolina’s hope is that tennis organizations would do a better job of educating fans about what’s really happening between the three countries.

“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,” Svitolina said. “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 [it].”

Whatever their stance is, it’s an unfortunate look for tennis.


About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.