Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk is in the headlines following her ATX Open 2023 win. It is the first time she has won a senior tennis tournament. So it is naturally a huge achievement for the 20-year-old. However, the reason she is making news is completely different. It was her post-match antics that caused a stir in the sporting world.
She faced off against Varvara Gracheva in the final of the tournament. Marta Kostyuk beat Varvara in straight sets, 6-3 and 7-5. After the win, Marta headed toward the umpire and shook hands. It is also customary for the players to shake hands after the match. However, Kostyuk apparently ignored Varvara Gracheva twice throughout the post-match ceremonies.
So why did Marta Kostyuk take such a dramatic stance? While it is nothing against Varvara personally, Kostyuk’s protest was against Varvara’s nation, Russia. As fans know, there is an intense battle going on between Russia and Ukraine. Following Russia’s attempt to invade the neighboring country, the world saw an outpour of support for Ukraine.
Even the famous boxers, Wladimir Klitschko, Oleksandr Usyk, and Vasiliy Lomanchenko went into the war to fight alongside their own soldiers. Hence, sports personalities supporting Ukraine are nothing new. However, the way Marta Kostyuk decided to snub her Russian opponent, is something that may have a lasting impact on the fans.
Marta Kostyuk speaks about refusing to shake hands with her Russian opponent
Marta Kostyuk is a rising star in the women’s tennis scene. Hence, her actions became a big talking point among the fans. But she did explain her actions during her speech after the match. As excepted, Marta showed love for her country. While she did not directly speak about snubbing her opponent, her speech gave fans the exact idea of why she took the action.
Kostyuk added, “Being in the position that I’m in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title… I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who are fighting and dying right now.” (h/t via The Independent)
But this is not the first time she has taken a stand on the matter. In January 2023, Marta was taking part in the Australian Open with her doubles partner Elena-Gabriela Ruse. However, during the tournament, there was an instance when fans were spotted inside the arena with a Russian flag. It hurt Marta deeply and she condemned the action vehemently!
There have been actions against Russian and Belarusian athletes as LTA previously banned them from participating in some major tournaments including Wimbledon! However, LTA was later fined $1 million for its actions. So it will be interesting to see which way the public opinion goes on this matter going forward.
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