Victoria Azarenka - Australian Open 2023

Victoria Azarenka brands Wimbledon boos as ‘very unfair’

Victoria Azarenka has voiced her opinion on being booed by the Wimbledon Court No.1 crowd, following her close fought battle with Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. 

Azarenka had a 5-0 win-loss record against Svitolina, but was beaten for the first time by the former No.3 in a third set tie-break, 6-2 4-6 6(9)-7.

Despite the high-quality match of almost three hours, most of the conversation has surrounded the Belarusian being booed off court after the match.

Due to the ongoing war, Ukrainian players have decided not to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian opponents and there was no exception in this match.

Azarenka acknowledged this, but the crowd did not seem to understand the situation and subsequently booed the two-time Grand Slam champion.

The former No.1 was asked about whether she felt like the victim in her post-match press conference, “Victim? Victim that someone didn’t shake my hand? Oh, please. She doesn’t want to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian’s. I respected her decision. What should I have done. Stayed and waited?”

Azarenka continued, “There’s nothing that I could do that would have been right, so I just did what I thought was respectful toward her decision. But this conversation about shaking hands is not a life-changing conversation.”

“I’ve known Elina for a long time and always had a good relationship with her. The circumstances, it is what it is. I don’t think talking about every little gesture is a big story. The bigger you guys make it, the longer it’ll be a conversation.”

In another tense encounter with the press, Azarenka implied that she thought the crowds treatment of her was not right.

Azarenka: “What do you think about it?” Journalist: “I’m sorry?” Azarenka: “How do you think the crowd was in the end? What’s your opinion?” Journalist: “I feel that was very unfair.” Azarenka: “I think we agree on that.”

Svitolina, who has recently returned to the WTA tour following giving birth to her first child with Gael Monfils, believes that more awareness needs to be given to fans surrounding the handshake situation, “I think the tennis organisations have to come out with a statement that there will be no handshake between Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian players.

“I don’t know if it’s maybe not clear for people. Some people do not know what is happening. So I think this is the right way to do it.”

She will now move onto her Wimbledon quarter-final match tomorrow against world No.1 Iga Swiatek, who has been very outspoken in her support of Ukraine these past couple of years.

Svitolina spoke of how ‘thankful’ she is to the Pole, “She’s a great champion and a great person. I’m really thankful for her support of Ukrainians, doing everything in her power. My priority is to recover. I’ll sit down with my coach, go over a game plan to see if I can find a way to beat her.”

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.