Svitolina 'Very Sad And Frustrated' People Don't Understand Handshake Stance With Russian Players

Svitolina 'Very Sad And Frustrated' People Don't Understand Handshake Stance With Russian Players

by Nurein Ahmed

Last updated

Elina Svitolina is defiant, as are her fellow Ukrainian players on their current handshake stance with their Russian and Belarusian counterparts.

Speaking to Harper Bazaar, Elina Svitolina says she has a sense of duty for her country and out of respect for front-line soldiers involved in the current ongoing war against Russia in her homeland. Each of their actions on the court is scrutinized back home, and Svitolina admits her position regarding snubbing handshakes is clear.

Since the war broke out, Ukrainian players refused to shake hands with Russian players and that extended to Belarusians (who became a strong ally of Russia in the current war). Ukrainian players have come under heavy criticism for politicizing their actions of no handshake.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Tennis Federation gave their verdict regarding the no handshake policy, adding that no player from their country is forced to comply. Tennis fans in stadiums have made their views clear, going to the extent of booing Ukranian players.

"For me, it is very sad, and very frustrating that people don't understand this. It's a very obvious thing to not shake hands when I have a lot of friends who are on the front line, right now, fighting for Ukraine."

"Can you imagine them watching me competing at Wimbledon or any anywhere in the world, shaking hands and acting like nothing's happening? People need to understand that sometimes you can’t divide politics from sport. They are representing their countries and I am representing mine in front of the world. My position has to be clear."

Svitolina returned to competition after taking maternity leave. She played in her first tournament back in early April, while unranked. Since then, she has put together some impressive results, including a second Wimbledon semifinal appearance this month. She recently re-entered the Top 30.

The 28-year-old is now very much a veteran on the women's tour. She is part of a gaudy list of returning mothers on the WTA who have enjoyed a fruitful second phase of their careers. Svitolina, while experienced, feels the added pressure to perform for her country.

"I feel the pressure. I knew a lot of people in Ukraine were watching. It's a really great feeling but also it comes with responsibility because it feels like you want to win for so many people – for your whole country."


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