Ukrainian Tennis Player Marta Kostyuk Refuses To Shake Hands With Russia’s Varvara Gracheva After Winning First Title

[Twitter/Screenshot/Public — @KostyukFan]

Andrew Powell Contributor
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After winning the Women’s Tennis Association tournament on Sunday, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Varvara Gracheva of Russia.

Over the weekend, Kostyuk won her first career WTA championship, but unlike most tennis players who shake hands after a match, Kostyuk refused to do so with Gracheva. Instead, she shook the umpire’s hand.

“It was just my choice,” said Kostyuk in reference to not shaking Gracheva’s hand. “We had a great match, don’t get me wrong. She’s a great competitor, I respect her as an athlete, but that has nothing to do with her as a human being.”

Kostyuk said that Sunday’s win was dedicated to “all the people who are fighting and dying” in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.

“Being in the position that I’m in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title,” said Kostyuk. “I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who are fighting and dying right now.”

Both Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to play on the tour, but they can’t show the flags of their country. Fans are also banned from showing Russian and Belarusian flags. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, provided Russian troops with a staging ground for their invasion of Ukraine in the early months of the war.

Kostyuk has been vocal in the past about how she feels about Russians and Belarusians in WTA events. (RELATED: Child Shot At Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowler Joe Mixon’s Home, Police Say)

“Whoever speaks out [regarding the war] clearly I believe has every right to be on tour but whoever doesn’t… I don’t think it’s just humane,” Kostyuk said in January. Of her Russian an Belarusian competitors, she said, “I don’t really talk to anyone. I barely say ‘hi’ to them.”