(London) Wimbledon tournament organizers ruled on Monday that a player’s decision whether or not to shake their opponent’s hand was “personal”, a day after Belarusian Victoria Azarenka was booed by the crowd after her defeat against Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
“Historically in tennis, the decision on how a player reacts at the end of a match is a personal decision and we don’t want to start setting an obligation,” London Grand Slam Tournament Director Sally Bolton explained. .
As has become common, Svitolina did not shake hands with Azarenka after their 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11/9) round of 16 win in protest against the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022.
The Belarusian responded by raising his hand in the direction of his opponent, in what looked like a gesture of respect, but however left the court under the boos of part of the public.
The two-time Australian Open champion said after the game the treatment “wasn’t fair”, saying the crowd may have had a little too much Pimm’s, the tournament’s traditional alcoholic drink, during the match. daytime.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, but I can’t control the crowd. I’m not sure a lot of people understood what was going on,” she added.
“If people just focus on handshakes or boos from a pretty drunk audience at the end, that’s too bad,” she said.
Svitolina and her fellow Ukrainians had previously refused to shake hands with their Russian and Belarusian rivals at Roland Garros, which had sometimes earned them boos as well.
She said on Sunday that the boos could stop if the tennis authorities released a statement explaining the position of the Ukrainian players.
“I don’t know if it’s clear to people, if some don’t really know what’s going on,” she said.
Five players representing Russia or Belarus, a close ally of Moscow, could participate in the quarter-finals of a London tournament from which its nationals had been banned in 2022.