The tennis world witnessed a surprising moment during the quarterfinals of the 2023 Roland Garros when Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka met on the Court Philippe-Chatrier. Sabalenka, the second-seeded Belarusian, emerged victorious in two sets, yet what sparked the most discussion was the absence of the traditional post-match handshake between the two players.
In the past, Svitolina had made clear that she would not participate in the post-match handshake. Earlier during the WTA event, fans in Paris saw another Ukrainian player previously booed by the French crowd during a first-round match, a sentiment that was echoed when she avoided shaking hands with Sabalenka.
Interestingly, Sabalenka seemed unaware of Svitolina's stance. Unlike Daria Kasatkina, Svitolina's previous opponent who knew not to initiate the handshake, Sabalenka stood at the net, waiting for the gesture.
This move clearly caught Svitolina off guard, as she later admitted in a press conference, even expressing surprise at Sabalenka's seeming lack of awareness of her stance on handshake.
"I don't know, to be fair, what she was waiting, because my statements were clear enough about the handshake. Secondly, no, it was quite expected. I was expecting that. Whoever in this situation loses, I guess, gets booed, so I was expecting that. It was not a surprise for me."
Svitolina affirmed her stance on the handshake issue. She expressed her expectation of being booed given the situation and reiterated her surprise at Sabalenka's attempt to initiate a handshake.
"My initial reaction, don't know, was like, what are you doing (smiling)? Because, yeah, all my press conference I say my clear position. So I don't know."
"Maybe she's not on social media during the tournaments, but it is pretty clear. I made multiple statements that I'm not shaking hands, and she played obviously Marta as well the first round. So is quite simple, you know."