Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Varvara Gracheva, a Russian, after she won the ATX Open in Austin, Texas on Sunday. Kostyuk beat Gracheva 6-3, 7-5 to clinch her first career WTA title.
The 20-year-old Ukrainian ended up shaking the hand of the match umpire, but wouldn’t shake the hand of Gracheva. Instead, she simply walked past Gracheva on two occasions.
“It was just my choice,” Kostyuk said of skipping the handshake, according to The Mirror. “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.”
She dedicated her first career WTA title to “all the people who are fighting and dying” in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
“Being in the position that I’m in right now, it’s extremely special to win this title,” Kostyuk said. “I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all the people who are fighting and dying right now.”
According to WTA rules, Russian and Belarusian players are permitted to compete on the tour. However, much like at Grand Slam events over the past year, flags of the two countries aren’t allowed to be displayed by competitors and fans alike.
Kostyuk has been outspoken regarding Russian and Belarusian players being permitted to compete in WTA events.
“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,” she said in January, according to The Mirror. “I don’t really talk to anyone [Russian and Belarusian competitors] I barely say ‘hi’ to them.”
The Lawn Tennis Association and the All England Club are currently deciding whether or not to allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate at Wimbledon this summer. In 2022, Russian and Belarusian players were banned from competing at the Grand Slam.
Kostyuk had reached the third round of the 2023 Australian Open before falling to Jessica Pegula.