No handshake & no photoshoot as Ukraine's Kostyuk beats Russia's Gracheva to win title

No handshake & no photoshoot as Ukraine's Kostyuk beats Russia's Gracheva to win title

by Zachary Wimer

Last updated

Marta Kostyuk has finally claimed her maiden WTA title by beating Varvara Gracheva at the ATX Open in Austin.

The Ukrainian was on fire throughout the tournament, with her brilliant display in the final earning her a 6-3, 7-5 victory. However, Kostyuk's triumph was accompanied by a twist that took the tennis world by storm: there was no post-match handshake with her Russian opponent, and no combined trophy photoshoot.

While the lack of a handshake may seem like an oddity in the world of tennis, it's not surprising considering the ongoing War in Ukraine. Kostyuk has been quite vocal about the war in her country and has previously made it clear that she will not shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players.

Last season, she met Belarusian Victoria Azarenka at the US Open and lost 2-6, 3-6, but after the match, she also refused to shake hands with the former world no. 1 and only touched racquets with her.

Kostyuk's decision not to shake Gracheva's hand highlights the extent to which politics can play a role in sports. It's a complicated issue, and it's understandable why Kostyuk took this stance. While some may argue that sports should remain apolitical, it's important to remember that athletes are human beings with their own beliefs, emotions, and opinions. Backing her own beliefs after the triumph, Kostyuk said:

"Being in the position that I am in right now, it's extremely special to win this title and I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and all the people who are fighting and dying right now."

Despite the lack of a handshake, Kostyuk was gracious in victory, dedicating her title to Ukraine and all the people fighting and dying there. She also thanked the organizers, staff, and fans for their support, making it clear that she appreciated the warm reception she received in Austin.

"Yeah, obviously it's a very special moment no matter where it happens but I want to say thank you guys, everyone who put this tournament together. I know it takes a lot of work and a lot of hours, it's really not easy guys. Ball kids, staff, transporters, everyone, unbelievable."

"This is one of the nicest tournaments I've been to. I said in the draw ceremony that it feels like a home tournament here, and a lot of people came here to support me. Thank you guys, Thank you."


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