Wimbledon news | Victoria Azarenka booed by the Wimbledon crowd as she erupts in handshake snub – News Block

It was touted as the match the world would be watching (Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina vs. Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka) and generated a lot of controversy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine with the help of Belarus and the ongoing dispute have inevitably spilled over into the sport, leading to scenes of fire since early 2022.

The fourth round at Wimbledon was no different, as Svitolina came from a set down to beat Azarenka in the round of 16, triumphing 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), to send the crowd into ecstasy.

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Svitolina has taken a political position at the end of her matches against all Russian and Belarusian players, choosing not to shake their hands after the match. It’s a well-known stance among players and the Ukrainian has received a mixed reception for it.

At Roland-Garros, Svitolina was met with boos, but against Azarenka she had the Wimbledon crowd behind her.

After her defeat, Azarenka shook hands with the chair umpire before waving a greeting to Svitolina.

As the Belarusian walked off the pitch, the crowd started booing him. Azarenka offered a wry smile, shook her head, before raising her arms in the air as if he had his wrists shackled.

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It was an ugly ending to a gripping match that has created a highly successful quarterfinal clash between Svitolina and world No. 1 star Iga Swiatek.

Speaking after the contest, Azarenka said her hands were tied.

“There’s nothing to say, he doesn’t want to shake hands with Russians or Belarusians,” explained the two-time Australian Open winner.

“I respected his decision. What should I have done? Stay and wait? I mean, there was nothing I could have done that would have been right, so I did what I thought was respectful of his decision.”

“This conversation about shaking hands is not a life-changing conversation. If you want to keep talking about it, break it, make it a big deal, headlines, whatever, go ahead.

“I thought it was a great tennis match and if people are going to focus on handshakes or a pretty drunk crowd, booing at the end, it’s a shame.

“That’s probably what it is at the end of the day, it was a tense match. We’re here, tennis match, nobody’s changing lives here. We’re playing tennis, we’re doing our job, that’s all.”

While it was frustration for Azarenka, there was euphoria for Svitolina, who fought back tears.

“I think after giving birth, I would say this is the second happiest moment of my life,” said the 28-year-old.

“It was an extremely difficult match. When I was down 0-2 in the second set, I heard them cheering for me and I almost wanted to cry.

“It was really hard for me because I didn’t play my best and 0-2 down and I was really fighting and I really wanted to win today.

“Point for point, I was just trying to fight and find a way to win the match and of course you guys gave me a lot of strength today. It’s really unbelievable.”

“I was thinking about home, there are a lot of people looking at me and cheering me on,” she added, wiping away tears.

“There are difficult times in Ukraine and I am here in front of you. I cannot complain, I just have to win every point and in the end, here I am, I won the match.”

Asked at a post-match news conference about the handshake snub, Svitolina said she thinks it’s “the right way.”

Svitolina will face world number one Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

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