“For me, it’s a personal matter. It’s not personal because it’s Vika, but it wasn’t just an ordinary tournament match,” said Kosťuková. “It’s not the right thing to do under the current circumstances,” she added to the traditional post-match handshake.
Azarenkova took the situation in stride and recalled that she experienced the same thing with another Ukrainian opponent Dajana Jastremska at the August tournament in Washington. “It is what it is. Let it be. I can’t force anyone to give me my hand. It’s her decision,” she said.
Kostuková stated that she had informed Azarenkova of what she was planning a day earlier by text message. She had previously said that she was upset that Azarenkova, as a member of the WTA Players’ Council, did not do more for Ukrainian players after the war began in February. She herself, on the contrary, claims that she offered help, but that the WTA management told her that it was not the right time for it.
Controversy was also sparked by Azarenka’s invitation to the charity event for Ukraine “Tennis Plays for Peace”, which preceded the start of the US Open last week in Flushing Meadows. Kosťuková criticized the decision of the organizers to invite a representative of a nation participating in the invasion: “Imagine that it is the Second World War and there is a charity event for Jews and a German wants to play at it. During the war, not 70 years after it. I think the Jews wouldn’t understand,” Kostuková argued.
In the end, the organizers canceled Azarenkova’s participation. During the event, more than a million dollars were collected for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.