Svitolina had vowed not to shake hands with Belarusian Azarenka ahead of their crunch third round match and the two women did not hold back.
Svitolina said Azarenka’s nationality was a “big motivation” ahead of the game and appeared fired up as the two launched powerful shots at each other from the base line.
The crowd cheered her with shouts of ‘Slava Ukraini’ and ‘Come on Ukraine’, while others waved the country’s blue and yellow flag during the politcally charged match on Sunday evening.
Svitolina refused to shake Azarenka’s hand following her sensational tie-break victory that brought the stadium to its feet in a deafening roar.
Both players headed straight to the umpire with Azarenka raising her racket to the Ukrainian in a sign of respect, but when she left the pitch a hostile atmosphere gripped the crowd.
Azarenka smacked her fists together in the direction of the crowd in a defiant gesture and shook her head as she was booed off the court after losing 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.
Former world No 1 Azarenka, 33, said: “I’m not sure a lot of people understood what was happening.
“There has probably been a lot of Pimm’s throughout the day. If people are going to focus only on handshakes or a drunk crowd booing in the end, it’s a shame.
“She doesn’t want to shake hands with Russian, Belarusian people. I respected her decision. What should I have done?
“Nothing would have been right, so I just did what I thought was respectful towards her decision.”
Asked to explain her “cuffed wrists” gesture, Azarenka was more guarded, replying: “I actually have no idea. I don’t know. I won’t even be able to duplicate what I did.”
Svitolina, who said the victory was “the happiest moment of my life” apart from the birth of daughter Skai, added: “When I was down in the second set I heard you guys cheering for me and I almost wanted to cry.
“It was really tough for me because I wasn’t playing my best, I was really struggling, but I really wanted to win. You guys gave me so much strength. You were unbelievable.
“I was just trying to think about back home, the people watching and cheering for me,” she said.
“I know how much it will mean to them. Any moment they can share of happiness means a lot.
“There are tough times in Ukraine and I am playing here in front of you guys, I cannot complain. I just try to win every point.”