A special match, necessarily. For the first round of Roland-Garros, Sunday, chance wanted that the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, world number 2, faces the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk. The latter is one of the players very critical of the response, too soft for her taste, provided by the world tennis authorities to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
"I try not to think about these negative things," Sabalenka said. It is none of my business in the end. It doesn't matter if she hates me! I can't do anything about it. There will always be people who will love me and hate me. If she hates me, it's not reciprocated. »
"The lack of a handshake, I can understand"
At the US Open last year, for example, the Ukrainian refused to greet former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka at the end of their match, simply touching her racket in protest. She could repeat this gesture after her first round against Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed and winner of the first Grand Slam of the season in Australia earlier this year.
"Regarding the lack of a handshake, I can understand that," said the Belarusian during the media day before the start of the tournament. It's hard [for them] to shake hands with a Belarusian or a Russian. What message would they convey at home? »
As in April at the tournament in Stuttgart, where she reached the final, Sabalenka repeated that if she could "end the war, [she] will do it," while affirming that "sport should not be politicized." "We are just athletes. If it suits them not to shake my hand, too bad. »
- Roland-Garros 2023
- War in Ukraine