Aryna Sabalenka handshake scenes sparks ugly French Open drama

The tennis world was left absolutely floored after the bizarre drama at Roland Garros.

Aryna Sabalenka watches Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk shake hand with the chair umpire and Kostyuk in a press conference.
Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk (pictured right) was booed when she refused to shake hands with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (pictured left) after their French Open clash. (Images: Getty Images/@RolandGarros)

The French Open has been rocked after Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk was booed when she refused to shake hands with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at the net after her loss in the first round. One of the French Open favourites, Sabalenka, was able to navigate a tricky match against Kostyuk to win 6-3, 6-2 in her opening match.

Sabalenka and Kostyuk have history with the latter opting not to shake hands with the World No.2 in their previous tennis meeting due to Belarus choosing to help Russia in the war on Ukraine. And after the match, Kostyuk again opted to avoid Sabalenka at the net.

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The fans let out a chorus of boos due to the lack of handshake. This sparked confusing scenes. Sabalenka was originally taken aback and thought the crowd was jeering her.

Initially, Sabalenka performed a theatrical bow to the crowd in a mocking gesture post-match when she thought the boos were aimed at her. She then looked at her player's box who appeared to signal the crowd were not booing her, but rather her opponent for snubbing the handshake.

Sabalenka then thanked the crowd to a big applause. The Belarusian addressed the confusion after the match and said she thought the crowd was booing her.

However, the tennis world reacted to the scenes with plenty fuming Kostyuk copped the wrath of the crowd. The Ukrainian player herself addressed the drama and said history won't look back kindly on the scenes.

“I want to see people react to it in 10 years when the war is over. I think they will not feel really nice about what they did,” Kostyuk said in her post-match press conference on the crowd behaviour. “I didn’t expect it. People should be honestly embarrassed.”

Marta Kostyuk shakes the chair umpire's hand as Aryna Sabalenka watches on.
Marta Kostyuk (pictured right) opted not to shake Aryna Sabalenka's (pictured middle) hand after their Roland Garros encounter. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Kostyuk has continually called for Russian and Belarusian players to denounce the war on Ukraine. And she clarified that while she doesn't 'hate' Sabalenka, she doesn't respect her.

“I never said that I hate Aryna Sabalenka or any of the players. I just don’t respect her because of her position in this situation,” Kostyuk added. The tennis world was left absolutely baffled at the scenes with many claiming it was not on to target a Ukraine player for making a stand.

Aryna Sabalenka addresses handshake drama

After the match, Sabalenka called for crowds to refrain from booing Ukrainian players and said it shouldn't happen no matter what the circumstances. A reporter - believed to be from Ukraine - questioned Sabalenka in a passionate plea asking her to reveal her response on the war in Ukraine.

And the the Belarusian made what could be her biggest statement yet in unequivocally denouncing the war.

“I said it many, many times: nobody in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, support the war,” Sabalenka said. “Nobody. How can we support the war? Nobody, normal people will never support it.

“Why do we have to go loud and say that things? This is like one plus one, it’s two. Of course we don’t support war. If it could affect anyhow the war, if it could like stop it, we would do it. But unfortunately, it’s not in our hands.”

Sabalenka reiterated she was confused over the crowd drama considering the tennis world has been aware for quite some time that some Ukrainian players won't shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players after a match due to the war.

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