Day after Wimbledon chief spoke up on the unfortunate booing incident against Victoria Azarenka on Court 1 on Sunday night for not shaking hands with Ukrainian star Elina Svitolina, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has now broken silence on the matter as they released a statement. The former world no.1 was jeered off the court after losing to Svitolina in a thrilling three-setter contest for a place in the quarterfinal. (Wimbledon 2023 Day 9 Live Updates)
Azarenka did not shake hands with Svitolina, but did acknowledge the win with a gesture before leaving the court. The no-handshake stance has been prevalent on tour among Ukrainian players against those from Russia and Belarus. Azarenka only followed it, but much to her dismay and shock, the Wimbledon crowd started to boo her off the court.
In the post-match presser, she later accused the crowd of drinking Pimm’s all day, although Wimbledon chief Sally Bolton today denied the allegations, saying: “That’s not an issue that we recognise. What I would say is what we all saw in that match was an extremely high-intensity well-matched contest that had the crowd absolutely on the edge of their seats. So the atmosphere in there was incredible. And that was driven by the quality of what they were seeing on the court.”
It wasn’t a one-off scenario on WTA tour. Svitolina herself was booed off the court during Roland Garros and so was Russian star Daria Kasatkina during that same event. Hence, in a bid to clarify the no-handshake stance, WTA on Tuesday released a statement, where called the Azarenka episode ‘unfortunate’ and a ‘misunderstanding’.
The statement read: “Following the unfortunate circumstances and misunderstanding in yesterday’s match at @Wimbledon (along with other matches the past several weeks), the WTA would like to provide clarity around post-match handshakes.
“Due to the ongoing reprehensible war, the WTA respects the position of the Ukrainian athletes in foregoing the tradition of shaking opponents’ hands (from Russia and Belarus) at the end of a match, as this is a personal decision. We have some of the best fans in the world and are grateful for their passion and dedication, and we thank them for their understanding and respect for the athletes.”
Russian player Daniil Medvedev, who reached the quarterfinal on Monday, too spoke on the booing incident, calling it a ‘misunderstanding’. After his comfortable round of 16 win, he said: “I think big misunderstanding. It’s very pity for Vika because she lost 11-9 on the tiebreaker. It’s brutal for anyone that loses a third-set tiebreaker, deciding set tiebreaker is brutal.
“As she said, I actually liked her response on the press conference, she respected the decision of Svitolina, about not shaking hands. I think the crowd that comes, Court 1 is what, maybe 10,000 people. I actually don’t know. They’re not all going to know the story behind this. They just saw Vika not shaking hands. That’s why I think they booed her. I liked her response where she said it was a great match and let’s talk about tennis. I think it’s a pity for sure for her that she got booed, and probably for no reason. But I think the people didn’t know the story behind it, and that’s why it happened.”